We Did It: A Content Analysis of Australian and New Zealand Online News Media Coverage of the Bid Process for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

in International Journal of Sport Communication

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Eleanor CrabillMiami University, Oxford, OH, USA

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Callie MaddoxMiami University, Oxford, OH, USA

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Adam BeisselMiami University, Oxford, OH, USA

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The purpose of this study was to examine online news media coverage of the Australia–New Zealand joint bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Following neoliberal feminist theory and a postfeminist framework, the meanings and discourses of women’s empowerment produced in, and disseminated by, Australia and New Zealand’s popular online news media were explored. A content analysis was used to examine 77 domestic online news media articles published in response to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup bid and hosting announcement. The findings revealed that the popular online news media centered on three themes: opportunities for women and girls in sport, legacy outcomes, and commercial benefits. However, there was a clear lack of critical engagement from the news media over the bid’s initiatives, claims, and promises. Only 2.5% of all online news media coverage engaged in meaningful discussion, analysis, and critique of the purported social and economic impacts of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. This study raises critical questions about the role of Australian and New Zealand (sport) media in (a) serving as a prominent forum through which the As One 2023 bid committee could circulate strategically crafted, preferred narratives regarding the event’s legacies and impacts to manufacture consent and public support for event hosting and (b) propagating a postfeminist celebration of women’s sport mega events that uncritically circulates specious claims of women’s empowerment, participation growth, and commercial benefits of the event.

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