Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Supervisor

Nancy B. Bouchier

Language

English

Abstract

This study explores the relationship between soccer and Toronto’s Italian immigrants throughout the 1970s to the now-mythical 1982 celebration of the Italian team’s FIFA World Cup victory on Toronto’s Corso Italia. The celebration’s location in a distinctly ethnic neighbourhood is linked to concepts of ‘place’ and ‘identity’ which made it central to the construction of an Italian-Canadian identity during the era of Multiculturalism policies. Toronto’s Italian-Canadians used the victory as a way of recognizing their own worth to society and to proudly and publicly solidify their integration into the Canadian multicultural landscape. Soccer helped them create and maintain a multi-dimensional transnational identity that reinforced the importance of their ethnic community. It also provided them with a visual way to relate to the nation. This study shows that this nationalism transcended traditional gender constraints and transformed this sport victory celebration into a family event, which included males and females alike. Eighteen interviews of Italian-Canadians who lived in and around the Toronto area throughout the 1970s and early 1980s reveal what they remember about the soccer-related events of that time period and how they feel about those memories now. This study also examines various Italian, Italian-Canadian, and English-language Canadian newspapers that covered specific sporting events and celebrations from 1978 to 1983, with a particular focus on the 1982 World Cup. It argues that in this case a collective memory has been created and conditioned by the way the media portrayed the event and how Toronto’s Italian-Canadian cultural community sustained it.

McMaster University Library

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