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Playing the identity card: stereotypes in European football

Hand, David and Crolley, Elizabeth and Jeutter, Ralf (2000) Playing the identity card: stereotypes in European football. Soccer and society, 1 (2). pp. 107-128. ISSN 1466-0970

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Abstract

The amount of space ‘quality’ newspapers devote to football reflects its increasing importance in European culture. European print media discourse on football does more than cover the game’s technicalities, though; it also shapes its readers’ awareness of national identities. It is the aim of this study to analyse football match reports and articles from Britain, Spain, France and Germany with a view to understanding the mechanisms at work in the construction of national stereotypes. The language used by these articles is varied, entertaining, highly inventive and often provocative, evoking references to warfare, politics, history, economics and popular culture. In many cases, the principal elements of the stereotypes represented by the European press are the same from country to country (English fighting spirit, Spanish toughness, French flair, German efficiency). European print media discourse on football may, therefore, be said to reinforce myths of national character and strengthen notions of collective identity associated with sport.

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