Guest editor(s)

Christina Philippou


Irvine Lapsley


Noel Hyndman

Submission opens 31st March 2022


Noel Hyndman (Centre for Not-for-profit and Public-sector Research, Queen’s University Belfast), Irvine Lapsley (Institute for Public Sector Accounting Research, University of Edinburgh Business School) and Christina Philippou (University of Portsmouth).


This Special Issue will focus on accounting, auditing and accountability of global football. We are keen to offer a platform for research on the pervasive nature of football in contemporary society. This Special Issue will address the significance of football in society by exploring manifestations of how football is part of the everyday lives of citizens in all walks of life and will seek to examine whether its significance in shaping society merits the description of a `soccer society`.  There are many writers and commentators who maintain that the influence of football on society is profound. One level of significance can be measured by how human beings on this planet get involved to watch football games live or on television. At the last World Cup over 3.4 billion people watched it. If we look at its significance as measured by social media, the BBC smart phone app is the number 1 app in the U.K. This is a general sports app, but it is dominated by its football coverage. If we look at famous football teams, we can see a significant footprint. For example, Barcelona FC has 400 million social media followers. This is greater than other entire sports – three times the exposure of all the teams in the US National Football League. While these kinds of statistics give a feel for the significance of football in today’s society, this Call is more interested in the manner in which football and its followers shape the everyday lives of millions of citizens. This entails the importance of aspects of football, such as performance, metrics and the manner in which it manifests itself in the life of citizens.  


One take on this phenomenon of a ‘soccer society’ is the thesis by Franklin Foer,2005 (How Football Explains the World), in which he argues that football has become the new religion. As contemporary society becomes more secular, Foer`s argument is that ordinary citizens seek fulfilment, not just from sport in general, but from football in particular. Other writers have followed de Foer with statements on how profound football is as an influence on the life of citizens.  


Carlin (2021) has suggested that: 

“Football is opera, theatre, ballet for the masses. Nothing, not even music, engages more people’s hearts and minds across more geographies, ideologies, races or religions”. 

This statement by Carlin may seem extravagant, but others share his perspective. For example, Dyer (2021) has argued that football is:  

“…an all-consuming cultural and sporting phenomenon that extraterrestrials might reasonably conclude that our planet achieved its shape in deference to the ball around which weekly and seasonal life orbits”.  


On the positive side, this can be a life-enhancing experience for football supporters of all walks of life, whilst many clubs take time to embed themselves as supportive elements of their local communities. Equally, there be negative consequences. The news regularly contains stories of the abuse that black,  gay or female players receive through social media, football hooliganism’ is a cancer that comes and goes (witness the recent report on behaviour in London during the 2021 Euro Cup Final), whilst the externalities of football clubs can have profoundly negative impacts upon their local communities – such as through the vandalism, noise and damage to local communities experienced on match days. 

Attaching this importance to football raises many questions over all aspects of the game: its organization, financing, operations management, links to local communities and the power relations of key actors in the delivery of football.  


We have particular interest in impactful research on the following topics: 

  • The global marketization of football and the impact of commercialization on the game of football. 
  • Tensions and issues in multilevel (national, regional, international) governance of football. 
  • The influence of media on the conduct and organization of football. 
  • The significance of women`s football on the global attractiveness of this sport. 
  • The effectiveness of different organizational forms – private companies, quoted companies on stock exchanges, non-profit organisations or associations – especially from a comparative aspect. 
  • The role and influence of football agents on the labour market for players. 
  • Corruption and fraud in the modern game of football. 
  • The acquisition of leading football clubs by countries with dubious human rights records as acts of sport cleansing. 
  • The publicness of football, its presence in the public domain and its potential to be considered a form of public good. 
  • The democratization of football by fan ownership. 
  • The significance of social context in the emergence and resilience of football clubs.    
  • The nature and motivation for breakaway leagues in football, including historical examples and the recent example of the proposed European Breakaway League. 
  • The alignment or mis-alignment of calculative practices in different domains (financial metrics such as return on capital, and metrics of sporting performance). 
  • Football dynasties and success in the modern game. 
  • Political interventions in the oversight of contemporary football. 
  • The impact of football upon racist, homophobic and other forms of discrimination in society. 
  • The externalities of football clubs, both positive and negative, in relation to their local communities. 


This Special Issue is interested in research which may have an accounting, management, regulatory or policy-making dimension, and which may be theoretical, empirical or methodological, or a combination. The research may be contemporary, historical or comparative. We are particularly interested in novel and creative approaches to the investigation of these phenomena. 


Papers from both established and new researchers are welcome.  

This project will build on previous sports-related research in AAAJ (see Andon, P. and Free, C. (2019), "Accounting and the business of sport: past, present and future", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 32 No. 7, pp. 1861-1875. 

Intending authors should note that the organizers are interested in full research papers (c.10,000 words), brief discussion papers (c.4000 words) and short commentaries on significant aspects of football (c.1500 words).  If you would like to participate in this special issue, the AAAJ website for this Call opens on 31 March 2022 and closes on 30 June 2022. If you have queries about this Call you may contact Irvine Lapsley ([email protected]).