Football-based prevention of radicalisation: A Theory of Change for football-based prevention of Radicalisation


  • Younis Kamil Abdulsalam Vrjie Universiteit Brussels
  • Marc Theeboom Vrjie Universiteit Brussels
  • Fred Coalter Vrjie Universiteit Brussels


Football-Based Prevention of Radicalisation, Social Cohesion, Sport for Development, Football and Social Inclusion


This paper describes the development of a programme theory for a football-based radicalisation prevention programme. As part of the Belgian Red Courts programme, an initiative of the Belgian Football Association in cooperation with the Vrije Universiteit Brussels and the Hannah-Arendt Institute, a literature review was conducted that links current research on preventing radicalisation with findings from the field of Sport for Development research. The Belgian Football Association is building and renovating 40 mini-football pitches in Belgium, providing sports infrastructure as well as a theory-based football programme to prevent radicalisation and promote social cohesion, and training of coaches to implement the programme. Starting in September 2023, the implementation of the trainings will start in 10 locations, which will be accompanied and evaluated within the framework of a PhD. In 2024, a further 10 locations will be implemented and evaluated. The paper aims to develop and describe a programme theory as the basis of a football curriculum for young people aged 14-18. The central mechanism for the prevention of radicalisation is Daniel Koehler's (2017) theory of re-pluralisation. In the course of the literature review, concrete contents and competences were identified that are considered to prevent radicalisation and at the same time work towards re-pluralisation of the target group in the course of the programme theory. This research aims to contribute to a larger body of scientific literature on the use of sport as an instrument in the prevention of radicalisation but also to develop a theory-based and practice-oriented foundation for promising sports programmes. With the completion of the research, the project will provide empirical evidence about the effect and possibly also the programme's sustainability.


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