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Full-fledged nations have had, and continue to have, the possibility to strengthen their national identity by participating in international sports competitions, such as the Olympic Games, and can use positive results in the international sports arena for national self-assertion. Globalization has opened up even more possibilities for nations to participate in international competitions. Ethnic and national minorities, classified as ethnies in the sense of Smith (see references), are excluded from these possibilities. Athletes and teams of ethnic and national minorities can only participate in international competitions if they join the sports ranks of the majority nation. However, another strategy is observed among ethnic and national minorities in order to make use of sports as a tool of soft power to strengthen internal cohesion and to team up with international sports organizations, like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). It turns out that among ethnic and national minorities, unique sports are to be found that form a substantial attribute of their identities. In this paper, this sports strategy of ethnies will be illustrated with two case studies, namely autochthonous sports that have originated from the Basque minorities in Spain and France and the Frisian minority in the Netherlands.

Keywords: sports, ethnic and national minorities, ethnie, Basque sports, Frisian sports, soft power, globalization

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