Turning away from star players and secret police surveillance, this article provides a history of East German football from below, examining the role of the people's game in shaping everyday life in the socialist state. Analyzing issues of class, gender, and youth culture as they related to three aspects of recreational football culture—men's workplace teams, women's football, and fan clubs—it argues that the sport, like few other leisure pursuits, illustrates the complex relationship between politics and pleasure in a one-party dictatorship. Football was an unusually visible, versatile, regular, and unpredictable means of giving voice and agency to ordinary East Germans, a place of multiple networks (both formal and informal) from which communist power was often excluded.

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