Football was quite popular in Spain, Italy and Germany when fascists came to power in each of these countries during the 1920s and 1930s. However, at the time football was still very much identified as an English game, since the rules for the game had been formalized in England, and the first organized sporting teams and associations originated there. Although fascists idealized sport for its contribution to physical fitness, both Hitler and Mussolini hated football for its association as an English game and preferred instead sports that they deemed indigenous to their countries. (In Italy, rugby union was disfavored for similar reasons.) By contrast, Franco loved football and particularly the Spanish national team and, in the domestic La Liga, the club team Real Madrid.
Despite his antipathy for football, Hitler recognized both its popularity and propaganda value and gave grudging support for its play and for sustaining a national team. In Italy, however, there was an attempt to suppress football and rugby union by susbtituting for them another game called Volata. This game was created by the national secretary of the Fascist Party, Augusto Turati, supposedly based on a form of football played in classical times, such as harpastum, and therefore indigenous to Italy. Starting in the late 1920s over 100 Volata clubs were formed into a league .
Although enjoying some initial popularity thanks to the steadfast support of Fascist sporting and cultural organizations, volata never caught on in football-mad Italy and in 1933 the effort was officially abandoned, and all references to it expunged from party records. In the end, the invention of the game proved more damaging to rugby union's popularity and place in Italian sporting culture. Indeed, the enduring popularity of football caused Mussolini to completely change his attitude toward football and Italy hosted the 1934 World Cup, which was won by the hosts.