Yacov Zohn

Email: yzohn@wisc.edu

Advisor: David McDonald

Yacov Zohn


In my High School days, playing soccer was my consuming passion. Off the field it found its way into all my academic essays, no matter for what class. I wrote about its history, economics, and even about its place in literary fiction. At university, I concentrated on international studies and history while continuing to play with various clubs. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison I hope to integrate my passion for soccer, modern history, and international studies.

Dr. Thomas Kelly’s book, First Nights, which grew out of his famous course at Harvard University, inspired me to use case studies to understand the bigger picture. First Nights takes five emblematic musical premieres in European history to examine the societal context, cultural resonance, and the evolving relationship between musicians and society. I admire how First Nights appeals to both specialists and general music lovers and intend to extrapolate his method in examining the development of national identity, politics, propaganda, and international relations in the Cold War through soccer matches. My case studies would be politically significant soccer matches and tours involving teams from opposite sides of the iron curtain. I hypothesize that the details of each match, such as referee and player selection, strategy, style of play, fan behavior, media coverage, referee decisions, and more, are revealing of the four underlying issues that I wish to examine. Considering my language preparation as well as my long stay in Russia and Western Europe, I am well equipped to investigate both perspectives. Moreover, my semi-professional soccer career in Russia, France, and the USA has given me a keen understanding of the technical nuances of soccer.


M.A., Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia
B.A., Nazareth College


  • European History

Selected Publications