Yacov Zohn

Email: yzohn@wisc.edu

Advisor: David McDonald
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Yacov Zohn


My dissertation, Tactical Representation: Political Goals in the Soviet National Football Team (1952-1972), probes the fractured political nature of football in the USSR through the lens of the Soviet national football team (Sbornaia), from the team’s official genesis in 1952 to the end of its “golden era” in 1972. The sport featured a complex representation of governmental organizations, industry, politicians, and sports administrators who actively intervened in sporting affairs, vying for power and influence. For example, the secret police ran numerous “Dinamo” teams, the Ministry of Transport funded the “Lokomotiv” teams, and the AMO automotive plant owned Torpedo Moscow. In Ukraine, Volodymyr Shcherbyts′kyi, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR, headed a coalition of Ukrainian governmental institutions, which supported Dynamo Kyiv. As a consequence of this connection between these actors and football, the volatile nature of politics in the Soviet Union came to the fore in the Soviet national team from its very inception.

I am particularly interested in exploring the reasons behind the shifting locus of representation embodied by the national football team: why and how Moscow, endowed with all of the USSR’s most important political institutions, dominant sports institutions, and the best clubs in the country, lost its monopoly on the national team as Tbilisi and especially Kyiv grew in importance. My dissertation explains how a mix of key individuals, political changes, new societal norms, strengthening nationalism in the republics, fragmentation of power in Moscow, evolving regional sport/governmental institutions, and hockey (of all things) played crucial role in impacting the national team’s meaning, composition, and results.


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


  • European History

Working Dissertation Title

  •  Tactical Representation: Political Goals in the Soviet National Football Team (1952-1972)

Selected Publications

Selected Awards

  • Stephen F. Cohen–Robert C. Tucker Dissertation Completion Fellowship, The Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), 2024
  • Visiting Fellowship, Leibniz Institute of European History, 2024
  • Fellowship for Doctoral Students, Leibniz Institute of European History, 2024 (Declined)
  • FIFA Research Scholarship, Centre International d’Étude du Sport (CIES), 2024 (Declined)
  • The North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) Graduate Student Essay Award, 2024
  • Early Career Scholar Award, European Committee for Sports History, 2024
  • The Russia Program and the Bridge Research Network Fieldwork Scholarship, 2023
  • Senn Award, UW-Madison, 2023
  • Kennan Institute Title VIII Summer Research Scholarship, 2022
  • New York Public Library Short-Term Research Fellowship, 2022
  • Stephen F. Cohen–Robert C. Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship (ASEEES), 2022
  • The North American Society for Sport History Dissertation Research Award, 2022
  • Title VIII Summer Research Laboratory Associateship (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), 2022
  • Title VIII, Ukrainian language at Indiana University, 2021
  • Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellowship, Poland (academic year), 2020

Professional Affiliations

  • Visiting Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for European History, 2024 – present
  • Visiting Researcher at the Georgian Football Federation, 2023
  • Visiting Researcher at the University of Lausanne, 2023
  • Réseaux d’Études des Relations Internationales Sportives member, 2023

Courses Taught as TA

  • History 101 – American History to the Civil War era
  • History 136 – Sport, Recreation, & Society in the United States