“Something Seriously Wrong With U.S. Soccer”: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Consumers’ Twitter Responses to U.S. Soccer’s Girls’ Apparel Promotion

in Journal of Sport Management

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Katherine SveinsonSchool of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

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Rachel AllisonDepartment of Sociology, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS, USA

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In September 2020, U.S. Soccer Federation posted a promotional tweet for girls’ fan clothing which included feminized aesthetics. Within 48 hr, the tweet was deleted. Previous work has shown that sport fan clothing are important organizational artifacts that contain symbolic meanings. This study extends this insight by exploring consumer responses to material items. Three hundred and seven tweets responding to the original post were collected. Through critical discourse analysis, findings illustrate that responses were embedded in gender discourses, with overwhelming dislike for hyperfeminized items marketed to women and girls. The stereotypical gender norms in marketing resulted in consumers’ suggesting organizational culture issues within U.S. Soccer Federation. Furthermore, this strategy was perceived as a transgression by creating material items that do not align with consumers’ values. This study illustrates that the meanings associated with fan clothing go beyond consumer preferences in that apparel can represent a material manifestation of organizational culture.

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