This work explores the phenomenon of soccer pilgrimage (i.e., international travel by U.S.-based supporters to matches and stadia in Europe). A purposive sample of 67 pilgrims who supported a variety of clubs participated. Respondents completed a survey questionnaire designed to inquire about their experience, including why they undertook pilgrimages, how they felt about them, their reaction to having completed pilgrimages, and how they described the experience to others when asked about it. A constant comparative analysis revealed that respondents socially constructed the social atmosphere, the sacred nature, and the authenticating capacity of soccer pilgrimages. Overall, soccer pilgrimage represents a form of secular pilgrimage defined by sociality, sacrality, and liminality.
Jeffrey W. Kassing and Pratik Nyaupane
Mathieu Winand, Matthew Belot, Sebastian Merten and Dimitrios Kolyperas
This study aimed to analyze the way Twitter is used by international sport federations (ISFs) to interact and engage with their followers. A content analysis of 5,389 online messages tweeted by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) using NVivo qualitative data-analysis software was conducted between August 2014 and January 2015. Results suggest that FIFA does not use Twitter to its full potential, mainly sharing 1-way information rather than engaging to a greater level with its followers. The research highlights the importance of effectively using Twitter as a potential powerful communication tool for ISFs, which are understood as meta-organizations whose members are organizations themselves. Communicating about social development and engaging followers, including their affiliated national sport associations, could potentially increase ISFs’ reputation and build trust among followers and stakeholders.
Lauren Burch, Matthew Zimmerman and Beth Fielding Lloyd
Velina B. Brackebusch
Jeffrey W. Kassing
Football Club Barcelona represents a successful modern sport entity with global influence and a celebrated past. It also has an undeniable connection to the region of Catalonia and has become in many ways a vehicle mobilized in the resurgent movement to seek Catalan independence from Spain. This case study considers how the strong and lasting link with Catalonia coupled with the club’s strategically ambiguous “mes que un club” (more than a club) motto combined to place the club in the difficult position of deciding to play a game in an empty stadium. The action, intended to be symbolic, proved questionable given the assorted stakeholders affected by the decision.
The sport/media complex is a very dynamic system in which actors are constantly negotiating positions and power relations. Historically, sport organizations and media companies have had a symbiotic relationship, and the boundaries between them have been fluid. First, media companies acted as sport organizations’ storytellers, but after the digital revolution, it became easier for sport organizations to enter the media market. Concerned with revenues, soccer clubs decided to take responsibility for exploring their image and promoting intellectual property. Initially advancing with marketing and public relations departments, they later created television or other media channels. The creation of club-owned media established an environment where a soccer club can act as a media organization. This case study is based on an examination of Benfica TV, in Portugal, and PSG TV, in France, to seek to understand their motivations and to assess the existence of a similar business model or motivation. An ethnographic-interview methodology was used in an attempt to understand the inner parts of the clubs that are frequently restricted.
Ju Young Lee
Thomas Horky, Marianna Baranovskaa, Christoph G. Grimmer, Honorata Jakubowska and Barbara Stelzner
Football’s (soccer’s) EURO 2016 in France marked a high point for sport journalism and broadcasting. Due to the implementation of a uniform multilateral image feed by the European Football Association (UEFA), differences in the verbal live commentary became significant. This study investigated commentary of the live television broadcasts of 4 matches in a specific country. Using social identity and self-categorization, a mixed-methods analysis was employed to quantitatively analyze the commentary and qualitatively assess content for notions of nationalism, patriotism, or globalization. Instead of notions of ideological nationalism, coverage emphasized sporting action and Europeanization of the event. Excluding forms of “banal nationalism” like introducing the teams and playing national anthems, live commentary presented fair or positive patriotism, together with remarks of transnational friendship and comradeship of the players. Based on the increasing frequency of sport organizations using similar image feeds in the future, a decreasing relevance for live commentary by national broadcasters is discussed.