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socialist sport?

 The Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland was founded in 1884 with now over 1 million members in 2,600 clubs .

Its players are amateurs, the grass roots are as important as the top echelons, and the majority of big games remain on free-to-air TV. And unlike football, clubs cannot be bought and sold and there are no private club owners. On the administrative side, club members elect an executive committee to carry out the running of the club on an annual basis. At the higher echelons of the GAA, such members must vacate their post after four years.

But Dr David Hassan of the University of Ulster denies that running the game with volunteers at grass-roots level means off-field activities are also "amateur". "At a community level, local competent professional people who are sympathetic to the GAA often do administrative jobs, such as a local accountant becoming club treasurer."

"The clubs and games are based in the community and operate on behalf of those people who are based in the community. If the grass roots say some policy proposal is a move in the wrong direction, the administrators cannot just say - as may be the case in English soccer - 'This is just business'."

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