Football and the sounds of the Black Atlantic

Daniel Burdsey, John Doyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article maps and analyses the relationship between football and black sound cultures in the UK. Employing a chronological and thematic approach, specifically, it examines the inclusion of football in post-Windrush calypsos, the appropriation of black music forms in football stadia, reggae as cultural critique of English football and British society, and the connections between transnational sounds and a diasporic footballing consciousness. Theoretically, this article draws on – and places in dialogue – Paul Gilroy’s concept of the ‘Black Atlantic’, Josh Kun’s notion of ‘audiotopia’ and Les Back’s emphasis on ‘deep listening’. This framing illuminates how music forms travel back and forth along diasporic roots and routes between Africa, the Caribbean, the United States and the United Kingdom. Critically, the article locates the relationship between football, music and race as providing the context and capacity for progressive change, and foregrounds its role as an important medium and method of cultural resistance to the marginalisations experienced by Black Atlantic diasporas and within football itself. The article concludes by looking forward, in an era of Black Lives Matter, to consider the spaces and practices of fandom and consumption that might open up as a result of listening and responding sociologically to the relationship between football and black sound cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-550
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (


  • Articles
  • Audiotopia
  • Black Atlantic
  • diaspora
  • football
  • music
  • race


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