Politics & Sportswashing

Lots said these days about using football as a means of ‘sportswashing’. The basic idea being that politicians and state leaders use football to sell a better image of themselves. The suggestion often made in the media is that this is a recent phenomenon but of course, like so many other things in life, it’s far from new. In fact, as far as football goes there are plenty of examples of politicians or businessmen pushing a particular idea to fans of certain clubs. As Manchester City are often highlighted today by those who are critical of the club’s owners, I thought it would be worth posting this image of a postcard created to promote a Manchester City director’s Conservative campaign.

Chapman was the first chairman for City back in 1894 and years later he died in office during his second spell as City’s chair. As part of his political campaigns he often linked the club’s successes to help present a positive image of success to potential voters. City’s captain Billy Meredith even campaigned for him at times.

City chairman John Chapman used City’s success as part of his political campaign.

Chapman was a decent guy it seems and both his political career and City chairmanship seemed on the whole to be positive for the people of Ardwick, though of course there were critics.

Regardless of how he was viewed it is clear that he did use City’s successes as part of his political campaigns. Nowadays someone would call this sportswashing no doubt, but it does show how people have used their sporting connections to further other ambitions. There’s nothing new in football!

My True Blue profile of Chapman will appear on 27 March 2023. You can read other True Blue profiles of City’s earliest figures by using the True Blue tab below. Thanks.

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