This paper aims to research and analyze the role of sports in general and soccer in particular in both radicalization and de-radicalization processes to identify threats emanating from and opportunities offered by soccer with the goal of designing and validating an integrated strategy to counter radicalization.

The research paper is rooted in the fact that sports and particularly soccer as an action driven activity often plays an important role in the development of militancy as has been explored among others by James M. Dorsey and French-American scholar Scott Atran.

The importance of soccer in recruitment and bonding is evident in the fact that many of the Palestinian suicide bombers in the 1990s bonded in an amateur soccer club in Hebron. The 2004 Madrid bombers played soccer together. Militant fans of a Belgrade club owned by paramilitary leader Arkan provided a spark for the wars in former Yugoslavia. Egyptian soccer fans played a key role in the 2011 overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

By the same token, however, immigrant clubs of which made it to the top league in countries like Sweden have served as catalysts for integration.

Soccer in other words is at the core of narratives that shape foreign, immigration and absorption policies as well an inter-cultural dialogue and understanding such as nationalism, islamophobia, youth gangs, racism, anarchism, right-wing extremism and militant Islam.

It can be either a push or pull factor depending on the broader social and political environment as well as a situation-bound constellation of factors. It is frequently a tool but seldom a driver in relation to key issues such as political and non-political violence, racisim and radicalization or de-radicalization.