chapter  4
Communing with continental amateurism
Corinthians in Europe, c. 1904–39
ByChris Bolsmann, Dilwyn Porter
Pages 21

The Corinthians began taking short tours to continental Europe in 1904, usually at Easter. Such tours were increasingly fashionable with middle-class soccer clubs, especially when they were welcomed as masters of the English game. Ironically, though their reputation at home was in decline, they were still much admired in Europe, especially after visiting Austria-Hungary, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Scandinavia in the years before English soccer’s ‘Great Split’ (1907–14). Soccer in these countries had been taken up by bourgeois anglophiles who admired the Corinthians for the style in which they played and for their gentlemanly behaviour. One consequence of the Split was to deny opportunities to tour in European countries affiliated with Fédération Internationale de Football Association, though some visits continued – to Bohemia, Switzerland and, unofficially, France. When European touring resumed in the 1920s, the Corinthians’ reputation ensured that they were at first well received, though it soon became clear that many continental sides could match or even beat them. Increasingly, they toured at the invitation of middle-class clubs or associations which were themselves confronted with the rise of professionalism and challenges generated by the popularity of the game with working-class players and spectators. The first tours had been major sporting events, the Corinthians processing regally from match to match and from banquet to banquet. By the 1930s, their credibility as opposition diminished and their visits to the continent were rather low-key affairs, generating little publicity. However, they left their mark in Europe, especially in France and the Netherlands, where clubs self-consciously modelling themselves on the Corinthians had emerged.