Alcohol and national-league soccer players: a Fiji Islands oral history, 1975-2015

Kieran Edmond James*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The subject of this article is the role of alcohol in elite amateur soccer in the Fiji Islands covering the period 1975-2015. Based on interviews with six ex-Premier League players from the 1980s, and participant-observation as a friend and confidante of one ex-star (Henry Dyer), we conclude that alcohol was used as a comforter, bonding mechanism/social lubricant, form of currency, recreational drug, tool of tribute, tool of rebellion, and source of temptation. Alcohol-related events reveal the wealth disparity and income-inequality between the Fiji Indian businessmen, who manage, control and sponsor the sport, and the mostly very poor players (both Indigenous and Fiji Indian) who require payment and organization from powerful (sometimes remote) others in order to be able to go on overseas playing trips. The players resent this inequality, and find ways to assert their independence, but in a way which also maximizes the enjoyment factor and creates long-lasting memories, which can be later recalled at will as the years go by.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-447
Number of pages23
JournalSCIREA Journal of Sociology
Issue number6
Early online date30 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023


  • alcohol
  • Fiji Islands
  • Fiji soccer
  • Fiji Indians
  • race and class
  • sociology of soccer
  • sociology of sport


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