This research provides an analysis of the social significance of football among youths growing up in vulnerable neighbourhoods in Medellín, Colombia. It explores the social significance of football in the context of a city with a long history of conflict and urban violence. Whereas violence is not as widespread as it used to be, continuing social issues provide youths with challenges as they grow up. Through the processes of socialization and identification, these social issues are reproduced and continue to shape communities’ social capital. In this social climate, football is understood as a representation of society in its strengths as well as its flaws. Being the most popular sport in Colombia, it cannot be separated from Medellín’s context of violence and crime, a context that is manifested through spectator violence and connections between fan groups and criminal gangs. However, football’s massive popularity also means that it can be used to address social problems. This thesis provides an analysis of sport engagement on different levels of organization, in which engagement includes playing and watching. Through explicitly using it as an educative tool, it can foster social relations and promote norms and values that apply inside as well as outside the pitch
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