Modern sport and gymnastics had their origins in Europe during the last two centuries. Organised competitive sports, like football, rugby and athletics, emerged in the nineteenth century as the private domain of the new social class born of industrialisation and urbanisation. They were a social innovation, confined to class and national boundaries; in the main they excluded manual workers, women and certain ethnic minorities (e.g. Jews and Gypsies). Essentially, these sports were a private initiative, in no way associated with the state or politics, let alone foreign policy. The contributors are eleven sports historians – two Germans, two Italians, two Englishmen, a Dane, Scot, Canadian, Frenchman and Spanish woman. Their intention is both to provide an insight into the unique development of sport in European society and, at the same time, to reveal the related historical processes that have shaped European sport over the last two hundred years.
Keywords: Europe, sport, history