This chapter analyses both the way in which football is presented in videogames and the ever more important influence that football videogames have on the sport. It focuses on football culture in the UK and France, and examines debates about the relationship between football and videogames that have taken place on both sides of the Channel. The UK is particularly worthy of study as it is widely seen as the birthplace of association football and is also home to the production companies that created games such as Football Manager. In, France is of great cultural significance due to the extent to which both its government and footballing authorities have embraced videogames culture.
To begin with, it will be shown that there are ways in which football videogames can be seen as a logical next step in processes identified by social theorists who have discussed the commercialisation and commodification of football. However, this chapter will argue that videogames such as Football Manager are also paradoxically playing a role in re-defining football culture by providing an outlet for fans who may feel disillusioned by top-level football.
Ultimately, this chapter shows that it is growing ever more appropriate to categorize football videogames as occupying an important place within football culture rather than seeing them as a niche pursuit.