Vidar Halldorsson

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Dr. Vidar Halldorsson
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BornAugust 22nd 1970
Reykjavík, Iceland
Alma materReykjavík University
  • Professor
  • Sports consultant

Dr. Vidar Halldorsson is a professor of sociology at the University of Iceland and a sports consultant. He was born August 22nd 1970, and lives in Reykjavík, Iceland.


Dr. Vidar Halldorsson completed his Ph.D. in sociology in 2012 from the University of Iceland with the thesis „No man is his own creation: the social context of excellence in sports“, under advisement of Dr. Thorolfur Thorlindsson, professor from University of Iceland.He did his masters in the sociology of sports at the University of Leicester, England and his undergraduate degree in sociology at the University of Iceland.


Dr. Halldorsson has been a full-time professor of sociology from June 2019 at the University of Iceland, after being a member of the faculty of sociology from 2014. His past experience includes a position as assistant professor of sport sociology and head of the department of sport sciences at Reykjavík University from January 2005 to January 2008. Before that, he was an assistant professor of sport sociology in the department of Sport Sciences at the Iceland University of Education (08/2003 – 07/2005). Dr. Vidar has also been a guest lecturer at the CIES (International Centre for Sport Studies) in the CIES/FIFA Masters Program, since august 2018[1]. Since 2003 Dr. Halldorsson has also worked as a consultant for sport organizations, sport clubs and teams at Melar Sport ehf. Those include some of Iceland´s successful national sport teams Dr. Vidar Halldorsson’s focus as a sociology professor lies mostly in the fields of the sociology of achievement, in particular within the paradigms of the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of culture and performance studies. In this sense, his research emphasizes the importance of social atmosphere, local culture and traditions for any means of collective achievement.

Published works and presentations

Dr. Vidar Halldorsson is best known for his book: Sports in Iceland: How Small Nations Achieve International Success (2017) [2], where he conducts a sociological analyses of the collective sport success of Icelandic national teams, in what been referred to as „the golden age of Icelandic sports“ (from approx. 2008-present) where Icelandic national teams have made their mark at the international sports scene in sports such as football, team handball and basketball. This success of the Icelandic teams took place in many sports at the same time, making the success of the Icelandic teams a central sociological topic. In this work Halldorsson proposes the „sweet-spot theory“ of collective sport success, which entails that sport cultures maximize their efficiency when they are situated in the right spot in their development from an amateur sport system towards a more professional sport system. In other words, the Icelandic national teams performed to the best of their potential, when they were built on more professional training and sports expertise than before (as due to the increased professionalism of Icelandic sports) but at the same time as they were characterized by friendships and the joy of playing for the sake of playing (as based on the amateur roots of Icelandic sports). The theory states that when teams have the best attributes of both worlds (amateur and professional), they perform to their greatest ability. Iceland´s golden age in sports happened in the middle of the transformation of Icelandic sports from amateurism to professionalism, where Icelandic sports had become more professional, but in Halldorsson´s view: „not too professional.“[2] This work comprises a highly critical account of the talent identification systems and the professional, systematic, and often mechanical, talent development programs in sports which have gained hegemony in European sports, as can for instance be found in his paper „The Black Swan of Elite Football: The case of Iceland.“[3] As Halldorsson argues, such programs tend to foster increased individualism and arrogance of its participants, which are detrimental to team sport success. This argument states that the talent development programs have to a large extent failed to foster important player and team characteristics from the more professional sport teams, such as of playing for play itself and player friendships, which in turn produces sport teams that lack the necessary team spirit to reach their fullest potential. Halldorsson´s work proposes to emphasize a more healthy and constructive youth sports system, which teaches and highlights good values for all participants, and in the long run more successful sport teams, than do the customary professional talent development programs. Besides his studies of sport achievement Halldorsson has done sociological research on a range of topics such as craftsmanship and expertise, political discourse, adolescent substance use, popular culture and, more recently, Halldorsson has been applying visual sociology in his work. Further details can be seen in his page. In 2019, Halldorsson was the organizer of EUSSSI 2019 (the European Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction) and has given a variety of international meetings and conferences such as "The sport success of Iceland: How a small nation achieved international success", on the behalf of CIES/FIFA at the University of West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago (2020), "Symbolic communication in sports. A suggested framework for analysis" at the ninth conference of the European Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (EUSSSI) in Reykjavik, Iceland (July 3-6, 2019)among others as seen in his personal page.

Current works

His current works include the books Sport Team Dynamics and Performance: A Sociological Approach, and Visual Sociology: Acquiring a Sociological Imagination Through the Camera Lens in Icelandic which are both expected to be released during 2022.You can read more about Dr. Viðar Halldórsson in his page:


  1. "CIES: Rio de Janeiro: Great success for the FGV/CIES/FMA Seminar on "Sport: Human, Economic and Social Development"". Retrieved 2020-12-02.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Halldorsson, Vidar (2017-04-07). Sport in Iceland: How Small Nations Achieve International Success. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-134-81230-1.
  3. Halldorsson, Vidar (2020-10-02). "The Black Swan of elite football: the case of Iceland". Soccer & Society. 21 (7): 711–724. doi:10.1080/14660970.2019.1710491. ISSN 1466-0970.

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