How Soccer Becomes Politics: A Case Study on the Communication of a Transnational Popular Media Event

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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  • 1 University of Applied Sciences and Arts Dortmund
  • | 2 University of Potsdam
  • | 3 University of Bielefeld
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In this case study, the authors elaborate on the narrative structure of transnational popular media events. Drawing from Dayan and Katz’s concept of media events and Julia Sonnevend’s exceptional work on iconic global media events, they argue that fundamental changes in the way occurrences are being reported on and news is structured must be considered. Allowing for recent technological advancements, the role of the consumer and the compression of time in media use, the authors develop a methodological and theoretical framework fitting a more mundane and everyday life–based approach. They derive their results from the analysis of the “Podgorica Media Event,” a news cycle emerging from a racist incident during an international soccer game between England and Montenegro. Based on the body of 250 international news pieces, they identify a primary mother narration and a distinctive narration as the typical ways of storytelling on a transnational level. While differing greatly in content, aspects of transnational popular media events serve to protect and reify the cultural background they are grounded in on a national level. Thus, we assume that sport, or, more specifically, soccer, may become political in media communication not by the impact of state government but by the consumers themselves choosing and developing a popular media event in the first place.

Kotthaus and Schäfer are with the Dept. of Applied Social Sciences, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Dortmund, Dortmund, Germany. Stankovic is with the Historical Inst., University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany. Weitzel is with the Inst. for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany.

Kotthaus (jochem.kotthaus@fh-dortmund.de) is corresponding author.
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