International Relations, International Development, and the Football Industry


This week’s World Cup draw was one vast, popular geography lesson. Who knew or cared that Colombia had been turned into a land of refugees, its government powerless to stop right-wing paramilitaries wreaking revenge on Marxist guerrilla sympathisers, until England drew it in Group G on Thursday night?” (The Independent 6 December 1997)

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The Independent reported this after England drew a match against Columbia. The article stresses on the importance of football on dissolving the barriers of racial stereotypes and imperial negligence of the first world countries against the less developed countries. Further, the importance of world cup as the creator of national identity in the United Kingdom and a forbearer of internationalism have been depicted through this article. The line signifies the relation of politics and football.

Relation between politics and football is manifold. One such instance of politics and it’s relation to football is the fight for being the host of World Cup. One such situation arose when England wanted to host the world cup 2006, which was opposed by Germany who was hoping English support for their becoming the host: “The Germans, who had also announced their intention to bid, cried foul: a gentleman’s agreement had been drawn up with England – in return for German support for Euro 96, England had agreed to back Germany for the World Cup in 2006.” (Chaudhary 2007)

Football has become the integrator of many countries like the European countries (Economist 2003) or Japan and South Korea (Economist 2002). As has been stated in the Economist (2003) regarding the level of integration of the Europeans through football, “Over the past decade European football teams have turned into a living, breathing embodiment of European integration” (Economist, 2003, p.55). Football has also been used as a diplomacy tool like countries like Brazil (Economist, 2004). Football has been found to be the disseminator of national identity in many states (Bradley 2003; Chehabi 2006; Lechner 2007).

Further, the strong commercialization of football is evident through the mega-sport events like the world Cup and affluent sports clubs (Horne 2004). Therefore, there seem to be an apparent belief that football industry has a political colour, which establishes a relation between global powers, and it helps in regional development. However, there is widespread neglect in the academia of football’s potential in international relations and development (Beck 2003).

Further, football is the most popular professional sports, which generates the maximum amount of revenue (Lee 2004). Debate on the distribution of the wealth football created since the 1990 arguably has been an issue, which interfere between public regulations and corporate interest. Therefore, a proper political and public approach has to be developed in order to divert the economical force that football generates towards greater good. Thus, understanding the relevance of football to developmental issue is important. This paper will research on the areas where football or football events has helped in building infrastructure and provided a boost to the economy.

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Football has gained international acclaim and has been used for political diplomacy and maintaining international relations. It has been the battleground during the cold war and the avenue for cultivating national identity. This paper will study how football has done this. Further football’s contribution in bridging diplomatic gap and development of the region will also be reviewed. World Cup is the largest football-playing event; this paper will research the World Cup of 2006 in order to understand how football has become a tool for international relations.


Sebastian Faulks has stated “the world cup shows us how to bare our emotions and discover who we really are” (June 2006). Geoff Boutle has agreed to the idea while he states, “… the World Cup provides an opportunity to express emotions, to work through feelings and to give voice to fears and hopes that may lie buried beneath a mask of indifference.” (July 2006, p. 18).

The first World Cup was started in 1930 in Uruguay in South America. Thirteen nations participated in the event then. Countries like England believed that it was too far to travel while others thought that it was not a good idea, but the World Cup was a success (O’Connor, Barlow & Skidmore 2002).thus, the very beginning of World Cup has shown integration among nations. The World Cup is a mega sporting event and the biggest football event:

[T]he World Cup is more than just a prominent sport tournament. In fact, as a ‘mega-event’ the World Cup is also a charismatic spectacle, a functional social ritual and a product of rational calculation…. It is a serious business as well as a public display of national achievements, and a showcase of individual and collective excellence it also serves as a labour market for some of the best-paid salaried employees in the world. In dealing with ‘the games behind the game,’ this book delivers its own unique account of the 2002 World Cup” (Horne & Manzenreiter 2002)

Thus, this provides immense scope in studying the international relations being moulded for such mega events. For instance in case of Japan-Korea who have historically strained relations, had to co-operate due to the event thus advancing their political relationship (Horne & Manzenreiter 2002).

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World Cup has facilitated in overthrowing regional stereotypes. For instance, when Senegal performed well and reached the quarterfinals of 2002 World Cup, shows how the world cup helped an African nation, which is stereotyped to be backward, and thus inferior to demonstrate their prowess to play intelligent football.

Football has also been ground for stereotyping of national populace. For instance, in 1998 football commentary was peppered with comments regarding Germans as efficient, ‘cold-hearted’ etc. (Levermore 2004, p. 21) Football has been observed a ground for unification and bridging racial divides. Therefore, football, especially world cup, has become an epitome for bridging the gap in international politics through cultural strain which political diplomacy has failed to attain. This paper will try to ascertain these issues and investigate the claim that football has the potentiality to establish national identity and steer economic development.

Aim and Objective

The aim of this paper is to see if football enhances international relations and if it creates a sense of national identity. Football has created national identity in various countries, especially the European countries (Jarvie 1993). For instance in Scottish football, football loyalties centre around the Scottish team, and in international football arena, specifically against England (Jarvie 1993). As sports, and especially football, had shown significant impact on the nationality and cultural identity in the 1990s (Jarvie 1993), it is important to understand if such as feeling has been furthered in the twenty first century.

There is a conventional belief that football creates national identity and international relationship. The dissemination of national identity and a tool to establish and maintain international relationships has been demonstrated through various events. The Economist has presented various articles (2002, 2003, and 2004) which demonstrated that football has been used a vital tool for international diplomacy.

Dan Bloomfield (Decemper 2007) in his article Football for peace writes about how football has the power to bring together the Palestinians and Israelites. Surely, the use of football as an international relation tool is widely believed in and the power of the sporting events to help diplomatic relations further is a well-accepted norm. Further, these events are also believed to bring in considerable development to the region. Football is seen as the bearer of national identity (Abell & et al. 2007) and helps in improved and more complex understanding of international relation (Beck, 2003).

Further, the developmental aspects of football will also be discussed. The paper is proposes to be divided into two parts: first, will deal with football and its usage in political diplomacy will be discussed along with football as a means of creating national identity in the overall international aspect and second will be to assess football as an industry and a driver of development to the region. This aspect will deal with the increased commercialized success of football and its spill over effect on the community.

In order to understand the full implication of football as a tool for international relations, the dissertation will study events and situations before and after world cup 2006.

Research Questions

The key areas that the dissertation aims to study are related to football and international relation and national identity and football’s developmental aspects. Broadly, the proposed paper will discuss the role of football in enhancing international political relations and economic development. From the preliminary discussion on football and its effect on international relation and development the research questions that I propose to study are:

  1. Does football create a sense of national identity?
  2. Does football facilitate the process of international political diplomacy and thus international relations? If yes, in what ways.
  3. How football helps in the developmental aspects of a region? How successful football has become as a global industry?

Football has gained international acclaim and world cup has become one of the major events, which has the potential to churn a lump of economic wealth for a nation. Football world cup have been an arena for the development of national identity through fans supporting their national teams and creation of the stereotypes that they confirm through the games. World cup 2002 has been dubbed as a competition between co-hosts South Korea and Japan (Johnston 3 May 2002). While the New York Times, in another instance, it has been called the promoter of understanding between nations (Berkow 28 January 2001).

For instance, the Copa Cup of South America has gained the name Peace Cup by president of Colombia, Andrés Pastrana (Berkow 28 January 2001), thus providing the significance of football in advancing cooperation and peace. To quote Lars Gustafsson, 2001 Noble Peace Prize winner, “Soccer has and will continue to play an important role in the global arena, when it comes to creating understanding between people.” (Berkow 28 January 2001). However, some believe that the games like World Cup, where the competition is so severe between nations that the “amity is lost in enmity”. Thus, the effect of football on international relations is twofold and thus need to be assessed properly in order to understand the effect of the game on international relation.


Most of the studies on football and international relations and development have adopted a qualitative methodology of research. Most of them employed case study analysis (Beck, 2003; Chehabi, 2006; Lechner, 2007) and grounded theory (Abell et al, 2007). Some have used quantitative methodology and collected statistical data by a questionnaire survey (Bradley, 2003).

This research uses qualitative research methodology. The data is derived from secondary source, which are used to determine the international relations issues that have emerged in 2006 World Cup. The analysis will be done through a content analysis of newspaper, magazine articles as well as television broadcasts. All issues related to international relations, political diplomacy, identity creation will be argued trough the content analysis method. The analysis will include codification of the information of the football affecting the international relations and using of football as vehicles for international relations and development.

Literature Review

Sports and International Relation

Relation between sports and international relations has been grossly underrepresented, as most academic work has neglected, even though they have a mutual impact on society. According to Levermor and Budd (2004) sports can relate a good deal about international relations. They believe that many academicians who have worked on the relation between sports and politics, have avoided a detailed IR analysis of sports.

A literature review presented by Levermor and Budd demonstrated the neglect of academics to draw the relation between sports and IR. They concluded that the texts before 1980s ‘played down’ the relation between IR and sports, though works those are more recent have stressed the importance of sports to international society. The review of literature also showed that “an analysis of international sports events, such as Olympics or the football World Cup, which play a significant role in international relations.” (2004, p. 7)

Sports, it is argued, are not central to IR dynamics, but it is definitely an access point to understand international systems. It is argued that with globalization the boundaries between nations have diminished providing the theory of “time-space-compression” which has greatly reduced political and geographical boundaries. It is said that global sports is highly affected by global trends:

“…while cricket matches between India and Pakistan are of secondary importance compared with the recent threat of war between the two countries, they are cut from the same cloth of social and international relations inscribed within the same framework of ideas and social practices.” (Levermore & Budd 2004, p. 9)

One cannot overlook the existing debate on the effect on sports on international relations, but negating it as it has been actively associated with economic and social development (Levemore 2008). When many of the traditional, orthodox development strategies fail to trigger development, sports is considered one of the most potent alternative engines to drive growth (Levemore 2008).

Sport or sporting events had been used as the stage for political situation between states. Mostly the media considered the sporting events as ‘zero-sum game’. To quote Phillips-Davison (as quoted in Levermore & Budd):

A sports event is, in the language of mathematics, a zero-sum game where if one side wins the other side has to lose. On international conflict, both sides may lose, or possibly both side may gain something, but there may not be a symmetrical relationship between the gains of one and the losses of another.” (Levermore & Budd 2004, p. 19)

Thus, sports have much contribution in maintaining international relations through conflict resolution, promoting cultural understanding, infrastructural development, etc (Levemore 2008). Rezink has pointed out that in pre-Palestine Israel, sports had a purely “national, not personal, cause” (2007, p. 621). It is argued that sports was not only a recreation, but rather was the vehicle for military organization. Further sports have been a source of campaign against apartheid in South Africa (Keech & Houlihan 1999; Booth 1997).

Sports have been considered the creator of national identity and African character (Keech & Houlihan 1999). Further sports politics in the Caribbean islands, especially Cuba, has been rampant, wherein sports have undergone severe political manipulation during the era of Fidel Castro (Pettavino & Pye 1994). During her during the cold war sports has been a major battleground for both ends of the ‘Iron Curtain’:

Competitors might see themselves as engaged in a purely sporting activity, but in practice they were often perceived and presented by governments, the media and public opinion as projections of national values and strengths, as well as weaknesses, within the context of the Cold War..” (Beck 2005, p. 170)

Sports as a developmental tool have not been cultivated thoroughly. For instance, the World Bank in its World Development Report of 2007 has only one sports related project. The negligence of usage of sports as a vehicle is probably due to the preoccupation of international agencies to concentrate on economic growth over social objectives.

Further traditional developmental practitioners are reluctant to use sports as a developmental tool as they view sports as “long-established and reasonably well-documented unease as being exclusive, male- dominated, corrupt, and greedy.” (Levemore 2008). Further, some even feel that sports are a diversion from real development. Other organizations like the UNICEF believe that the “need to assemble proof, to go beyond what is mostly anecdotal evidence to monitor and evaluate the impact of sport-in-development programs” by articulation of clear developmental goals (UNICEF 2006).

Therefore, it can be concluded that sports has a major influence on international relations between nations and it has been used as a tool for political diplomacy. Further sports have been considered as a vehicle for regional development. The literature on relation between sports and international relation support the theory of sports being the medium for creation of economic development.

Though there is various literatures supporting the claim that sports is the new engine for development and creator of national identity, this need to be further understood from the point of view of international relations. So a more clear understanding requires for football, which is the most successful and widely played game in the world. For this reason, the next section will deal with the works on football and its creation of national identity and economic development.

Football and International Relations

The relationship between football and nationalism has received considerable attention from academicians. Some theorists have approached this through a study of history of origin of football (Armstrong & Giulianotti 1998; Giulianotti 1999; Pickup 1999), others have considered the creation of football associations and bodies (Beck 2000; Dauncey 1999), while yet others have studied the economic impact of football on nations (Bourdieu 1999).

Football has become the arena for political, economic and social milieu. Especially, international football is considered to be the vehicle for political diplomacy. This section will deal with the previous studies, which has been conducted on relation between football and creation of national identity, political diplomacy, developmental and racial stereotypes.

According to Bradely, “Football often functions as a site for social, cultural and political representation and it is likely that its sustenance as the world’s most popular sport evolves considerably from such manifestations.” (2003, p. 12) Research on football has shown that politics has a strong resonance on football’s environment especially in countries like Norway, Italy, Argentina, Australia and Spain (Sugden & Tomlinson 1994; Armstrong & Giulionotti 1997 ; Brown 1998).

Football and National Identity

Football being an immensely popular sport has been researched widely by various researchers. There are various studies on football. Researchers have tried to establish a relation between football and its dissemination and creation of national identity through widespread commercialization and media dissemination (Bradley 2003; Abell & et al. 2007; Lechner 2007). However, there is a gap in the literature as some authors believe that football creates national identity (Bradley, 2003; Lechner, 2007) while others believe it does not (Abell et al, 2007).

Football has provided the fans a way to express their national identity and pride publicly, in terms of national politics, or national style of play. It has been argued, “At internationals, the team embodies the modern nation, often literally wrapping itself in the national flag” (Giulianotti 1999, p. 23) and that football ‘captures the notion of an imagined community perfectly. It is much easier to “imagine the nation and confirm national identity, when eleven players are representing the nation in a match against another nation” (Duke & Crolley 1996, p. 4).

Benedict Anderson (1990) discussed the creation of ‘imagined community’ which has been extended by Appadurai (1994), who has shown that identity can be created in different and unconventional manner. According to Appadurai fetishism in the modern world has become “an illusion created by contemporary transnational production of loci; which masks translocal capital, transnational earning flows – in the idiom and spectacle of the local” (1994, p. 306).

He further states, extending Anderson’s theory those communities are in continual rejuvenation, and they are continually re-imagined in face of new developments. Thus according to Anderson and Appadurai, fans of Manchester United are not constricted to the locale of Manchester. Rather they are constricted to the forms of consumption of consumer goods, which forms a network of Manchester United fans. Thus, according to this theory the identity that is created among the fans of Manchester United are above national identity, which underlines urban or local interest and affiliations.

Russel (1997) observes that until 1930s football was completely unrelated to the development of English national identity. This can be attributed to irregularities of play and the predominance of cricket, which captured the notion of Englishness more than football. Nevertheless, with the 1970s English national identity was associated with football and ‘hooliganism’ to form English nationalism. Further a display of English insignia, i.e. the flag of St. George during the Euro 2000 (Giulianotti & Gerrard. 2001) tournament and 2002 World Cup by English fans has led to the belief that “English success on the football field has led to a growth, or even a rebirth, of the idea of Englishness and English patriotism” (Garland 2004, p. 89).

Abell, Condor, Lowe, Gibson and Stevenson (2007) studied the feeling of national identity and nationalism among English fans with the English football team. The study followed a qualitative research methodology, collecting data through structured interviews of English fans during 2002 World Cup. The study showed that people with far right affiliation, used national football support to demonstrate their pride in English nationhood. People supported the English team by virtue of its being associated with nationalism.

Thus, people with far right affiliation, showed a sentimental attachment with the English team and perceived England as an imagined national community. But the research also shows that people can display English national identity for England football team without expressing any such feeling for the nation as an imagined community. What Abel et al. points out “football support may indeed represent an arena within which repressed nationalist sentiment may be granted licence for open expression, our findings equally suggest that the overt, bodily displays of national self-celebration paraded publicly in relation to football may be intended as a form of carnivalesque performance.” (2007, p. 117)

King (2000) studied the process of creation of Europeanness among football fans across Europe. He studies the fans of Manchester United and examines the development of European consciousness among this group. This feeling of nationalism is not that of supranational feeling of Europeanness. Here the stress is more in the locale of Manchester city and its club, which must compete with other European clubs.

King has undertaken a qualitative research through personal interviews with masculine fans of Manchester United who regularly go on trips to watch Manchester United play in other European cities. He has identified that club football creates an identity that typically associates with the club and has found that Englishness has been rejected over and above the club identity. The reason identified is due to the north and south divide in England, where people from south have more feeling of nationhood.

Therefore, King argues that: “This network of Manchester United fans may highlight a wider process where individuals across Europe are increasingly attaching themselves to their local city or region as the interests of that city or region become increasingly detached from the former national context to be re-integrated into wider European flows.” (King 2000, p. 437). Thus, King argues the creation of post-nationalism among Manchester United fans, which has been observed due to the strengthening of the club football in the region.

Similar trend has been identified by Goig (2008) in Spain. He has argued that football in Spain reflects that creation of democratic and post-nationalism. Goig observes that with advent of democracy, the Franco regime imposed organization structure of football was broken. Goig thus states, “The patriotic discourse, which had been characteristic of the Spanish national team in the previous period, gradually vanished. La furia española became an old-fashioned term and the poor results in the World Cups of 1978 and 1982 contributed to this.” (2008, p. 61)

Goig too finds that with the advent of club football, the national identity that Spanish team created has been dissolved among players and fans alike, which is entirely blamed upon globalization, which has caused alterations and readjustment of football identities in Spain. Thus, Goig feel that globalization pose a challenge to the creation of Nation-State identity.

Bradley (2003) conducted a quantitative analysis to study Scottish international football and the creation of Scottish national identity. The research draws on statistical data to build a profile of the Scottish fans and provides a typology of Scottishness that characterizes the supporters. Data was collected from Scottish fans at the 1996 European Football Championships through questionnaire survey. Bradley’s survey shows that national identity of Scottish fans is similar to the identity that the Scottish hold:

From the relevant comment of football fans it is clear that perceptions of sectarianism are varied and its relationship with other social and political features in Scotland similarly so. Amidst the discourse of complaints about Rangers or Celtic, too much emphasis on the west coast and Anglo-phobic supporters is to be found questions relating to identity” (Bradley 2003, p. 17).

Bernstein (2007) believe that international sporting events like the Olympics, World Cup football, European football championship provide people an opportunity to experience that indefinable sense of national identity. According to Bernstein post Gulf War Israel was looking for an event that could boost their national pride. As the country waited for a ‘change’, the Denmark Israel football match stood as an icon for the popular belief that “Israel could win the match” (Bernstein 2007, p. 659).

However, Israel’s defeat was seen a defeat of Israel’s warriors, which was openly condemned by the newspapers, who attacked the players’ for their conduct and personal life. The coverage of the match next day in the newspaper was “characterized by the use of variations on the words ‘defeat’ and ‘humiliation’, including front page headlines such as ‘The Big Disdain: the entire nation crossed its fingers for the football team – but in a shameful display it was beat by Denmark 5–0’, accompanied by a photograph of the coach holding his face in his hands.” (Bernstein 2007, p. 659) The defeat of the Israeli team against the Danish surged a feeling of disdain and defeat who were reminiscent over their inferiority:

Overall, the media quickly turned against the team. Now, in some cases the very same journalists, spoke and wrote very differently from the way they had spoken and written prior to the match, for instance: ‘eight years after Scharf [the coach] took the team, we still don’t understand European football’, thus emphasizing that ‘we’ cannot yet consider ourselves part of the European football scene. Rubi Rivlin…said after the match: ‘we don’t have an inferiority complex, we are simply inferior’. …In this case a ‘we’ approach to the team is maintained; however, it is worth observing that some of the coverage of the aftermath distanced itself—and thus the nation—from the football failure by using the term ‘the team’ rather than ‘us’, ‘Israel’s team’ or simply ‘Israel’ as was the case prior to the match.” (Bernstein 2007, pp. 659-60)

Armstrong (2002) conducted an ethnographic study of football in Liberia and the process of rehabilitation of former militia in a war damaged society. The study showed that Liberian football distinctly created a national identity as well as civic disintegration. The study shows that the age old disintegration of the civil society has not been overthrown by football which has become prone to corrupt interest of politicians. Thus, in case of Liberia, Anderson believes that football, though had the power to bring about national integration and build identity, failed to do so due to intervention of the powerful corrupt.

Thus, literature identifies cases where football develops a feeling of nationhood and national identity. However, as Anderson has proposed, identity can be created through various modes. Here it must be noted that research on national identity creation through football is not constricted to the creation of national identity. Identity is created based on race, ethnicities, clubs, consumerism, etc. in the next section we will discuss the literature that deals with the creation of identity – other than national identity – through football.

Football and Identity

Identity creation in football is not constricted to the creation of national identity. Research has shown that such identity creation has also taken the shape of regional, ethnic, racial, masculine, etc. identity. This section will discuss the literature, which studies these forms of identity creation.

Giulianotti (2007) examines the creation of “critical, resistant identity” among Rangers – a Scottish football club – supporters. He argues two different point-of-views. First, he examines the cultural politics of the relatively advantaged groups in society in popular culture and second, the nature of cultural contestation and resistance in popular culture (2007). The study is adopts a fieldwork research methodology. Giulianotti extensively researched Rangers supporters in the UK and abroad.

The research shows that the resistant identities of the Rangers supporters are based on internal issues of the club and not based on larger societal issues. Further, in terms of ethno-religious issues, shows that the bigotry thus associated with the Rangers fans are perceived to be creations of Scottish media, thus forming a critical cultural identity. Further Rangers fans contestation of Scottish media is not constricted to football. Some fans even draw comparison of ethno-national politics and football.

Further, the attitude of the Rangers fans towards Scottish national team is ambivalent and marginalized: “Rangers fans identify conjunctural societal processes at play in regard to their fellow supporters’ usage of pro-English or anti-Scottish symbols and practices, while other supporter groups maintain their football and societal allegiances to Scotland.” (2007, p. 279)

Coelho and Tiesler (2007) have studied a contradiction that Portugal has shown as a ‘football country’. The social presence of football is undeniable with “Television ratings, sports newspaper sales or the omnipresence of the subject in everyday conversations leave no doubt whatsoever as to the social impact of football on Portuguese society” but the paradox lies in small number of spectator attendance in football fields (2007, p. 579). Thus, football in Portugal has created a social identity, which keeps people glued to football conversations as the sport has become omnipresent in the social life of Portuguese.

Phelps (2001) explores the identity created through football clubs in southern England in 1940s and 1950s. The study is in the form of a case study of Portsmouth. The case suggests the distinction that is usually made between northern and southern UK identities are overdone. The case also showed that traits, which were considered exclusive for northern football clubs or footballers, were also present in Portsmouth’s side. The researcher believe the presence of the so called ‘northern qualities’ were central for the club’s success. Further, he also studied the southern football star Jimmy Dickenson, who Phelps believed possessed both northern and southern traits. The research shows contrary to the popular belief that regional identity of southern and northern part of the UK is different.

Another study by Crolley, Hand, and Jeutter (2000) shows how media coverage of football in Europe has developed national identity as well as national stereotypes. To study this, the researchers study newspaper coverage of football in Spain, Britain, France, and Germany. A content analysis of the newspaper articles show that the language is “varied, entertaining…highly inventive and often provocative…evoking references to warfare…politics…history…economic…and popular culture” (Crolley, Hand & Jeutter 2000, p. 126).

The study showed that the stereotypical discourses of the media of football in these countries are mostly same. The newspaper article portraying the highest degree of national identity is in German newspaper. Stereotyping of Germans in British, Spanish, and French texts convey the same message “aggressive strength, dull efficiency and arrogant self-belief” (2000, p. 126). Thus, Crolley et al. concludes that european media reinforces the feeling of nationhood which is rooted in the political and socio-economic realities of the coutnries.

Back, Crabbe and Solomos (2001) has argued that there exists racism in international football arena. They have used Barthes’ framework to show that football clubs are symbolic entities, which provides signifiers like whiteness or blackness. Their study reveals that even though with black national teams like Jamaica participating in events like World Cup increases black viewership, it does not transcend racism.

White and black nationalism in this sense in viewed as “distinct national cultures rather than any sense of cultural hybridity” (2001, p. 247) this is not only restricted to blacks and whites. The researchers feel that national identity created is more so based on race. This becomes clear when the researchers point out that the English supporters when travelled to Poland felt regarding Poles that they stayed like “coons… the way they all stick together” (2001, p. 231). The study shows that football also evokes a sense of identity among races.

Another study, which has dealt with race and football, is Collin King (2004). This study is a case study of the black football players who arrived in England and the pressure they had to perform up to the mark of the white players. The study shows that the discourse of the black players is that the type of inclusion and exclusion, which operates through the process of class, race, sexuality, and masculinity, reveals the nature of relationship with white men in crowd, field or changing room. Thus, according to the study there exists a racial distinction between white and black player in English football, which distinguishes black players due to their body.

The above literature review confirms that identity of any nature is created through football. The literature has dealt with the relation between identity creations through football. Previous research dealing with identity creation and football have not reached any parity as many academicians believe that football creates national identity while others believe they create racial, masculine, or regional identity.

Thus, identity created trough football is not limited to creation of a feeling of nationhood; it is also associated with creation of racial, gender, ethnic, social, regional, and sexual identity. As there is, no unanimous consensus on the area clear understanding in the process of identity creation has to be undertaken. Further, it needs to be analysed if it is football matches create identity, supporter’s feelings towards their teams or media discourse, must be clearly understood. Therefore, the courses of identity building need to be studied.

Football Diplomacy

Some studies have concentrated on identifying football as the propagator of diplomacy in the international relations arena (Beck 2005; Harif & Galily 2003; Chehabi 2006). Further there is also a discrepancy in understanding the role of football in international relations as Beck (2003) believes that football was not successful so far in improving England-German relationship but it definitely has a strong presence in international relations while Chehabi (2006) and Harif & Galily (2003) showed that football had a strong effect in international relations.

The hostilities in British German relation has been captured through research into football and politics. Beck (2003) studied the importance of football in ascertaining the British German relation. Beck first tried to show the relevance of football in international relation through a demonstration of the attitude Britons hold for Germans. Beck argues that even though British government had resorted to articulation of positive attitude towards Germans, wartime stereotypes will remain. He states that there exists a British German problem, which exists on the German side. Therefore, Beck considers football, in such a situation, both as the problem and the solution. As Beck points out that German British match in 2002, World Cup had been dubbed by the media as ‘football-war’ which he described as:

…the tone and language of surrounding media and public debates will be as interesting as the game itself, given the way in which any England team is handicapped by the weight of national expectation of another victory over the ‘old enemy’” (2003, p. 409).

Stoddart (2006) too has identified the British-German relation tension through football in his study of the political evaluations of the British officials regarding 1935 England-Germany football match. The study reveals that British officials faced problems in dealing with both German foreign policy and domestic public opinion regarding the match. He shows that in 1935 the British ambivalence towards football in creating national identity gave a chance to the German authorities to utilize football as a tool for state building and gain advantage in political arena. As he put it: “the German grasp on the relationship between sport, culture and politics put at major disadvantage an English society anxious to deny that powerful interconnection.” (2006, p. 45)

Edelman (1993) traces the journey of a Red Army football team called Moscow Dinamo and try to ascertain the politics behind the rise and fall of the team. Further Edelman argues that after the world war, the war devastated USSR was where entertainment and recreational infrastructure was completely devastated football was the quickest sport to recover and gained immense popularity.

Edelman observes that the Communist Party authorities used sports to meet political pursuits: “A 1948 Party resolution decreed that sport should strive not simply for sporting equality with other nations but for Soviet dominance.” (1993, p. 47) Further, with the formation of the Central Army the decisions related to sports were rumoured to have been taken by Stalin himself. Thus, Russian football is a clear example of political interference in sports and political usage of the game.

Football had a very intriguing form of contribution to the political scenario and international relations in Middle East. Chehabi (2006) has studied the history of football in Iran, which he feels is “intimately intertwined with politics”. Initially in 1920s, football in Iran had become a symbol of modernization. In the 1940s, the Islamic conservatives were against rampant expansion of football, which non-the-less continued. In the Islamic republic of Iran, football did not feature very highly on the agenda of the revolutionaries. Further television media was hard pressed to produce programs that people liked which were inadvertently sports.

However, neither wrestlers nor footballers covered their body from naval to knee. In 1987, the conservatives proclaimed a fatwa on the television channels on broadcasting films, which showed women who were not completely covered and “sports events, provided viewers watched without lust” (2006, p. 247). This fatwa gained political colour when a newspaper Jomhuri-ye eslami wrote that “by broadcasting”, the football World Cup in the United States “television provided propaganda for America, Iran’s enemy.” (2006, p. 247) However, after the Iraq war, the Iranian politicians understood the importance of football as a political tool.

By the 1990s, football became so popular that it started having rivalry with wrestling, which was given political colour when politically inclined media covered the preferred sports more: “The newspaper Salam, spokespiece of the more liberal wing of the regime until it was closed down, emphasized football in its sports coverage, while Resalat, the organ of the conservatives, stressed wrestling.” (2006, p. 248)

Chenabi points out that the “soccer fever of the late 1990s undoubtedly gave a boost to national integration in Iran” but the loss of the national team to qualify in 2002 World Cup was a disappointment to the people who rioted to show their frustration (p. 251). Thus, Chenabi concludes that the history of football in Iran thus traced in his research shows a close connection of the game with both domestic and international politics.

A study traces the development of Hebrew football in Israel since 1910-1928 (Kaufman & Galily 2008). The researchers identified that football was the epicentre for various international meets and relations with foreign countries with Israel during this period. The study shows that the birth of football in Israel is marked by international relations and influence over Israel by the British. Further games played also demonstrated relations with other nation’s viz. teams of Jewish, Arab or British origin.

Further games between the Jewish teams and teams from abroad in Israel marked the “Jewish settlement’s endeavour to strengthen relations with the Diaspora and earn international legitimization.” (Kaufman & Galily 2008, p. 91) Further these football games represented the political tension in the Jewish land, which were characterised by violence, conflicts, mutual boycotts between teams based on religion or origin.

Another study of the football in the 1918-48 Palestine and relations with British has been demonstrated by Harif and Galily (2003). They show that with increasing political tension and military conflict in the region gave rise to violent friction in the football pitch. In political scene, Palestine was the ‘litmus test’ to diagnose the British relation with the Jews, which transcended in football fields. When the English team visited Israel, a protest was organized to mark the public’s wrath against English colonisation. Thus, football has also played a major role in colonised countries.

A more recent theory of football, globalization, and commercialization has stressed on the concept of boundary less sport (Foer 2004). According to Foer, football began to transcend national borders since the World War II era. As competition became global, club owners tried to look for superstars whom they could buy in cheap. However, local political pressure always played a role in stopping this global influx of talents:

Politicians and sportswriters fretted that the influx from abroad would quash the development of young local talent. In Spain, for example, Dictator Francisco Franco prohibited the importation of foreign players. Brazil’s government declared Pelé a national treasure in 1961 and legally forbade his sale to a foreign team. But these stabs at nationalist economics could not ultimately stave off the seductive benefits of cheap, skilled labor from abroad.” (Foer 2004, p. 34)

A more liberal argument for such racially diverse teams is that it is believed that when they are put together for mutually beneficial reason they will forget their ancient grudges, which Foer disagrees with.

He presents the example of Scotland and the two teams, Celtics, representing Irish Catholics, and Rangers representing Tory unionism. Thus, Foer states: “Crosstown rivalries are, of course, a staple of sports, but the Celtic-Rangers rivalry in Scotland represents something more than the enmity of proximity. It is the unfinished fight over the Protestant Reformation.” (Foer 2004, p. 39) What Foer identifies is that clubs like Rangers and Celtics indulge in such bigotry in order to create a stronger bond among its fans that is deep rooted.

Against national teams like those that the Dutch tem has demonstrated how globalization will help the national football team to get international competition and through media, discourse has built a re-imagined national community (Lechner 2007). Lechner further states that the Dutch through their discourse have built a defense against globalization. The Dutch portrays the myth of a romantic soccer nation as a myth and develops a new national identity within the existing identity that is present between the Dutch (2007).

Football being used as a diplomatic tool to ensure peace was seen in case of Palestine and Israel. Bloomfield (2007) has reported the use of a sports based coexistence project, which aimed to bring the children of the two warring communities at peace. This event showed the unitary of football to bring together arguably two of the world’s most divided communities.

Thus, football has played a diverse and important role in international relations between countries and has reflected the tension that has been existing between two nations. Football has presented the grounds of segregation and the eruption of anti-feelings towards other nations, which was the prevalent political relation with other nations. The existing conflict of disagreements between countries was demonstrated through the football matches and the international relations issues became the forte of the crowd thus transcending the national issue among the masses.

Football and Development

In addition, a few others have studied the effect of football as a vehicle to economic development (Horne 2004; Cornelissen & Solberg 2007). Further, the economic developmental aspect of football is protested against by Horne (2004) who believes that in Japan the increased infrastructural cost incurred during the FIFA World Cup finals in 2002 have created increased debate as to the use of these stadiums. So the economic development that the sport brings is questioned against widespread belief. Another research on South African intention to market brand South Africa has shown that increased governmental infrastructural spending will definitely be a boost for the sporting event but will hamper the social and economic life of the cities (Alegi 2007).

Literature on footbal mega events and development has such events have the potentiality og triggering economic growth and significant development (Humphreys & Prokopowicz 2007; Black & van der Westhuizen 2004; Baade & Matheson 2004; Horne & Manzenreiter 2004; Horne 2004). Further literature states mega sproting events aleviate poverty, especially in developing coutnries, by triggering tourism, etc. (Black & Bezanson 2004; Black & van der Westhuizen 2004). The idea here is that developmental effects of mega events trickle down to the bottom level (Matheson & Baade 2004).

However, many scholars argue that the hype about developmental effect of mega events are not always true. Cornelissen (2007, p. 5) argues that mega events “may involve infrastructural and other developments, the legacies of which may be to the disadvantage, rather than the advantage of the broader populace”. Pillay & Bass (2008) has argued that the vast literature arguing the usefulness of football as an impetus for urban development and development of the poor is not actually true. It was widely believed that FIFA world cup 2010 would bring about infrastructural development in urban South Africa, which will create jobs, and development.

Thus, there exists a growing gap between the literature on developmental effect of mega events, and thus the effect of football on development. It is widely believed by the critics of the supporters of the thesis that football brings development that the developmental effects does not trickle down on the populace. Thus, this gap needs to be bridged by a formal investigation into the matter.


A research methodology is important to establish a method of conducting a research. A research methodology is a plan as to how a study should be conducted. There are various research methodologies, which are in use. The broad categories into which research methodologies may be segregated are quantitative, qualitative, and combined research method. This section discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using afore mentioned research methodologies and finally will justify the research methodology chosen for the paper.

Quantitative Research

A quantitative research method may be defined as the process of collecting numeric data and using that data to show what those, observations reflect (Babbie 1992). The one of the important factors of quantitative research methodology is data collection, which is done through various processes such as interviews, questionnaire surveys, tests/measures, and observations. Questionnaires have been used as a survey method for data collection in the research of internet adoption in previous sports research by Bradely (2003), Hiel, Lobke Hautman and Clercq (2007), and Torgler (2004) in measuring national identity.

Quantitative research is of different types. First is descriptive research. A descriptive research approach provides an exact portrayal of the account of the characteristics of an individual or a group’s (Sayer 1992). This is usually used to

  1. discover something through the research,
  2. providing description,
  3. determining the number of times something occurs, and
  4. categorizing information (Creswell 2003).

A descriptive study is conducted when there is little information regarding the observable fact. This research method often uses questionnaires, psychological measurements to describe a situation.

Correlation research is based on the methodical examination of relationship between two or more variables, which has been identified through secondary research. The relationship can be positive or negative and the degree of strength of the relationship can be determined through this process. However, they fail to determine cause and effect. They are used when the nature of the relationship has to be determined.

Quasi-experimental research is conducted when it is important to identify a relationship, examine the significance, clarify why, and/or combine these of a causal relationship (Gratton & Jones 2004). They are usually used to see the effect of medical intervention in the patient’s outcome. Experimental research is a systematic investigation is conducted in order to predict and control an occurrence. This is a method used for the study of the causality. These researches have highly controlled settings as in laboratory.

This section discusses a few advantages and disadvantage of quantitative research. Quantitative method is widely used for its objectiveness. Quantitative methods are systematic and are based on positive perspective. Further, quantitative research is replicable as it is possible to collect the same data in another situation or place and get some other outcome, which can be compared. Nevertheless, quantitative research methodology has been criticised for its positivism (Tashakkori & Teddlie 1998). Another criticism is based on the question of internal and external validity, which was thought to be not present in the quantitative method by some psychologists.

Quantitative method has been criticised for being limited to hypothesis testing. Further it is also called a simplistic process wherein data related to the research question are gathered which are then analysed with little concern for the historical background of the situation (Creswell 2003; Sayer 1992). Further as quantitative analysis are related to cause and effect they fail to be an appropriate method of research for events which are dynamic (Sayer 1992).

As Sayer points out one disadvantage of using quantitative methods is the usage of mathematics and logic, which may “used to refer to anything or nothing.” (1992, p. 175) Further, another interesting issue in social studies is to look at the demographics, wherein a quantitative method does not allow looking into the “social structures” (Sayer 1992, p. 178). Additionally, in social sciences, quantification is not a method but a tool of study and so a quantitative method is not appropriate methodology for social science research. This shows that the quantitative method is not a full proof method for research in social science.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is described as alphanumeric examination of the observations with the aim to discover the hidden meaning beneath it and a pattern of relationship, if any (Creswell 2003). It aims to “capture qualities that are not quantifiable, that is reducible to numbers, such as feelings, thoughts, experiences and so on, that is those concepts associated with interpretive approaches to knowledge.” (Gratton & Jones 2004, p. 27).

First, is the phenomenological research, which is the process of studying the event to describe the experience as, lived by the participants of the study and in interpreted by the researcher. As the study is based on humanistic experiences, there is no singular experience common to all, on the contrary there are various experiences, each distinct for different human beings (Gratton & Jones 2004; Breakwell et al. 2006). It is a complex research process as it is lived by the researcher and participant.

Grounded theory is a process of inductive research, which is used to discover the problems, exists in a social scene and how persons handle them. The methodology has been developed to codify the “ways in which theoretical accounts can be generated through the close and detailed inspection and analysis of qualitative data, in ways that hold a clear relevance to real-world problems and phenomenon.” (Breakwell et al. 2006, p. 344)

Ethnographic research method has been developed from the field of anthropology and is used to understand cultures (Creswell 2003). It is mostly used to determine the character of the cultures or subgroups and analyze their behaviour. The main tools of data collection in this method are observation, participant observation, structured and unstructured interviews, life histories and unobtrusive methods (Gratton & Jones 2004).

Case study research method is also a well accepted and used method of qualitative research method for sports studies (Gratton & Jones 2004). In case of case studies, a particular phenomenon is studied through focus on specific case, which is studied in depth. The phenomenon is studied in natural setting and context. The perspective drawn in this form of research is from those who are present in the case and does not consider the researcher’s perspective.

Another method widely used for studying the discursive force and nature of media or popular culture is through content analysis (Butle 2001; Riffe, Lacy & Fico 2005). This method has been used by various football researchers to identify the national identity building of football and importance of the sport in international relations.

Qualitative study is said to be more dynamic and suitable for studies, which are occurring and are still in the process of change. They are useful in order to understand the reason for the development of the theory from the present understanding or studying prior historical data. However, the advantages of the method are that they fail to be objective and are difficult to be replicated. Therefore, generalization is difficult in a qualitative research method.

Qualitative researches are also known as constructivist approach refuse positivism (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie 2004). Further, these researches are value bounded and it is very difficult to differentiate between cause and effect. Johnson & Onwuegbuzie (2004) further identifies that qualitative research encompasses a “a dislike of a detached and passive style of writing, preferring, instead, detailed, rich, and thick (empathic) description, written directly and somewhat informally” (p. 14). Thus, there exists extensive literature on the difference between quantitative and quantitative research methods.

Combined Method

There exists extensive debate regarding the validity and supremacy of one of the research methods (Tashakkori & Teddlie 1998) but it has again been criticised by scholars who believe that the two methodologies are compatible (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie 2004). Therefore, this group of scholars believe that even though the two paradigms are different, there lie certain elements of similarities, which can provide fruitful research: “The goal of mixed methods research is not to replace either of these approaches but rather to draw from the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of both in single research studies and across studies.” (2004, p. 15).

This methodology is identified using both the qualitative and quantitative methodologies. This method identifies the similarities in the traditional methodologies, which has been used. This method has gained acceptance in various research fields. Sociologists and widely use this methodology (Creswell 2003).

Combined methods are divided into five categories (Tashakkori & Teddlie 1998). First is the Triangulation technique. This the method of using more than one type of quantitative method. This process is further divided into four parts:

  1. data triangulation,
  2. investigator triangulation,
  3. theory triangulation,
  4. methodological triangulation (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998).

The methodological triangualtion uses both quantitative and qualitative method. Then there is a mono-method study, which uses only one type of research method.

Then there is the mixed model research method, which is defined as the “studies that are products of the pragmatist paradigm and that combine the qualitative and quantitative approaches within different phases of the research process.” (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998, p.19) These are further divided into sequential study, parallel/simultaneous studies, equivalent studies and dominant-less studies (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998).

As the mixed research model is evolved through the disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative research method, it is important to understand the various areas where in the method can be applied. Further, it is important to understand the areas wherein the two traditional methods will be applied to reap full benefit of their combinations. A mixed research method comprises of the following steps:

  1. determine the research question;
  2. determine whether a mixed design is appropriate;
  3. select the mixed method or mixed-model research design;
  4. collect the data;
  5. analyze the data;
  6. interpret the data;
  7. legitimate the data;
  8. draw conclusions (if warranted) and write the final report.” (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004, p.21)

Research Design

Most of the studies on football and international relations and development have adopted a qualitative methodology of research. Most of them employed on case study analysis (Beck, 2003; Chehabi, 2006; Lechner, 2007) and grounded theory (Abell et al, 2007). Some have used quantitative methodology and collected statistical data by a questionnaire survey (Bradley, 2003).

It is argued that mediated sports are the main discursive force behind spread of national identity. As Wenner (1998) points out that media’s presentation of Olympics games are filled with images of nationalism and nationhood. Further, media representation of the games broadcast dwells in stereotypes of ethnicity, race, gender, etc.

Many of the researches on football and national identity and international relations are written as essays or historical studies. Political situations and the effect of the football match are studied from a historical point of view. Most of the researches in the area are in the form of narratives, which relates the history of the game from a social perspective (e.g. Goig 2008). Methodologies used for the studies on football are based on field study of the team or supporters (Giulianotti & Gerrard 2001; Giulianotti 2007), content analysis (Crolley, Hand & Jeutter 2000; Bernstein 2007; Bradley 2006), case study using survey method (Abell et al. 2007; Bradley 2003; Hiel, Lobke Hautman & Clercq 2007), and case study (Phelps 2001; Alegi 2002; Coelho & Tiesler 2007).

Some studies like that by Bernstein (2007) have done an ethnographic content analysis of the Israeli newspaper coverage of the Israeli teams’ qualifying match to EURO 2000. However, this study too does not do a proper content analysis, as it does not mention the process of sampling and the reason for studying the newspapers it did. It is more of a narration of the newspapers rather than a content analysis. Then many researches are based on focus group studies like that by King (2000).

Thus, most of the studies on football and international relations are based on qualitative studies. The reason is probably that qualitative research methods are mostly used in social science (Sayer 1992) research as well as sports research (Gratton & Jones 2004). That is why this study uses a qualitative research methodology. It intends to derive the data from secondary sources wherein it will try to determine the international relations issues that has emerged in last few year’s popular football sporting events. Further, it will try to ascertain which issues were dissolved.


This research is based on a content analysis of football World Cup 2006 coverage in media. Content analysis may be of two types: quantitative and ethnographic. This will present to us the essence of national identity creation of a mega event like World Cup on the masses. Content analysis is a method through which both qualitative and quantitative data can be collected and analysed. According to Starosta:

Content analysis translates frequency of occurrence of certain symbols into summary judgments and comparisons of content of the discourse…whatever “means” will presumably take up space and/or time; hence, the greater that space and/or time, the greater the meaning’s significance.” (1984, p. 185)

A quantitative content analysis is used to verify confirmed hypothesized relationships (Altheide 1987). According to Neuendorf (2002) a quantitative content analysis of media must be conducted using ‘scientific method’. While ethnographic content analyses are a process of documenting and understanding the meaning of communication and verify theoretical relationships. According to Altheide ethnographic content analysis is based on “constant discovery and constant comparison of relevant situations, settings, styles, images, meanings and nuances.” (1987, p. 68)

The analysis will be done through a content analysis of newspaper, magazine articles as well as television broadcasts. All issues related to international relations, political diplomacy, identity creation will be argued trough the content analysis method. The analysis will include codification of the information of the football affecting the international relations and using of football as vehicles for international relations and development.

Content analysis is a method that allows measuring the frequency of the messages. It is usually used to obtain the ““objective” content of written and electronic documents” (Altheide 1987, p. 66). Further newspaper discourse of sports is always interesting as sports pages cannot afford to be dull. Thus study of the newspaper coverage of sporting events and matches will provide what sentiment the people and the soared of nationalistic sentiment and national identity (Crolley, Hand & Jeutter 2000). Further, the importance of football to international relations and politics can also be determined through this process. The issue of development of regions through football will also be understood through data collected from secondary sources. Given this, the data will be analyzed using both quantitative and ethnographic content analysis.

The analysis will pertain to do a descriptive quantitative and mostly qualitative analysis of the articles pertaining to the World Cup 2006. The analysis will be done with eh help of content analysis software QDA Miner and WordStat. This software has been reviewed to be an efficient tool for both qualitative and quantitative content analysis (Johnson 2007). QDA Miner is said to provide a wide variety of options for qualitative research.

Data Collection

Data will be collected from newspapers on issues related to World Cup and national identity, international relations and/or politics, and for regional development articles are collected from newspaper and Germany 2006 World Cup official site press releases and Progress Report of Word Cup 2006. The data is based on the frequency of occurrence of words and phrases like national identity, political football, international relations and development. The aim of the paper is to study newspaper articles and football match reports to identify construction of national identity.

The reports and articles studied will provide an in-depth understanding of the mechanism at work in football media creation of national identity. To allow effective comparison the newspapers analysed are all ‘quality’ dailies. In order to understand the phenomenon, the relevant articles from newspapers will be searched using academic search engines to derive the newspaper results relevant to our study.

These newspapers have different political inclinations to ensure a diverse political sentiment representation in our sample. The political inclination of the newspaper or the writer of the article is not relevant to our research and so we will constrict it to analysing the message in the article. The articles will be searched for relevant information on national identity building and increasing importance of football in international relations.

The data collected is related to World Cup football. No year is specified in order to understand the changing pattern in football and its increasing importance towards international politics and national identity building. Once the data is collected, it will be coded using the coding scheme, which has been developed with the help of the literature review.

Systematic presentation of the data

This section will provide the complete list of the data, which will be evaluated, and the reason and basis of selecting this sample. The coding and the results of simple quantitative content analysis will also be presented in this section. The data collected for the research is related to articles and sports coverage related to World Cup 2006. The software used for coding is WordStat. The data is collected from newspapers, television coverage and magazines. The articles can be divided into three distinct parts:

  1. articles related to world cup and building of national identity,
  2. the second set of articles shows the football’s importance to international relations, and
  3. articles related to football World Cup 2006 and development.

Relevant articles covering world cup 2006 from mostly European newspapers and magazines like The Observer, Times, Telegraph, LeMonde, etc. the coding is done on 77 articles all covering and related to football World Cup 2006. These articles are chosen from the well-known periodicals. These articles cover the World Cup 2006 match reports or articles related to world cup. The sample has been chosen randomly and is few in number due to feasibility of the study.

The articles collected for analysis comprised mostly from newspapers and magazines. The segregation of the articles thus analysed has been provided in the table below (figure 1) and the next figure shows regional segregation of the news articles derived from (figure 2). Figure 1 show that number of articles collected from a particular news source. Figure 2 shows the geographical areas where the news sources are located. For instance, Independent is from the UK while New York Times from the USA and Le Monde from France.

Sources for the analysis.
Figure 1: Sources for the analysis.
Geographical location of the sources.
Figure 2: Geographical location of the sources.

The coding process involves identifying sections of the articles related to the following codes, which has been identified to be relevant from the literature review. The first section deals with investigation of the process of identity creation through football. For this, all the articles thus studied for the research were coded. The codes thus identified to recognize creation of national identity were through the occurrence of the following words and/or phrases in sentences. These were nationalism, rising of the national flag, national identity, and patriotism. In the next section, we will discuss the various aspects of the content analysis and how it has been done will be presented.

For coding of the data usually adjectives (positive or negative) or metaphors and similes, or verb or active passive voice, tonal qualities such as aggressiveness, sarcasm, emotional language, etc. are located in the text and then analyzed. This report will use both quantitative and qualitative content analysis method. Computer aided coding will be done. The research questions that will be dealt with are as follows:

  1. Does football create national identity?
  2. Is football relevant to international relations between countries?
  3. Do football events help in development of the region?

The coding for investigating the first research question, we will use variables such as “national identity”. The usage of words like ‘war’, nation, nationalism, etc. in order to describe the force of national identity building through media coverage. War metaphor is found rampantly in most media coverage of football matches (Crolley, Hand & Jeutter 2000). Such words related to national identity building like patriotism, physical strength, leadership quality, etc. will also be considered.

Another inclination that has been observed earlier is the metaphor drawn between battlefield and warriors in football media coverage, which results in identity building. This aspect has also been considered while coding for national identity. Usage of worlds like combat, gallant, warrior, battlefield, etc. has intensified the process of national identity building according to previous research. This coding format will help us ascertain the discursive strength of football in creating national identity through media. Thus, the codes that we are concerned with for this category are National Identity and Other Identity.

The second question will deal with variables whose frequency will be counted in the texts. The codes for the second questions will be politics, international, tension, and problem. Another important aspect that needs to be understood through this is the stereo typifying of other countries.

This tendency is mostly seen in European nations (Crolley, Hand & Jeutter 2000). This section will look for positive and negative words like war and/or peace, friendly and aggressive, bad relations and good relations, political tension, political situation, mass sentiments, etc. This will show the relevance of football and the prevalent political situation between the two countries. This analysis will help identify the importance of football as a diplomatic tool. Thus, the codes used here are Politics and International Relations.

The third question will deal with the developmental aspects of world cup football, which will deal with the economic development through football events. This will deal with the football events like World Cup see if it spreads economic and social development to the masses. For this, we will evaluate the last two football world cups and see the surge in GDP of the countries where it had been held. Further, we will also try to identity whether the income has trickled down to the masses. For this, we will review articles related to world cup and economic development and if it has benefitted or disturbed the economic and social equilibrium of the regions. The relevant codes for this analysis are economic and social development.

The creation of national identity among the viewers of football matches and among football fans has been studied in this content analysis. Here the content of all the articles related to the World Cup 2006 are analysed are for the word national wherein five phrases were identified.

The numbers of cases that we derived related to the codes thus constructed are presented in the following figure (figure 3). The figure shows the distribution of the number of cases that occur in the content analysis. This shows that the maximum occurrence of the code in the analysis is that of national identity, then social development and economic development. International relations is on the fifth position followed by other identity. This shows that the media coverage of world cup 2006 football has reported more of national identity building and developmental issues and less of issues related to international relations and politics. This indicates that football has more influence on identity building and development than on international relations and politics.

Distribution of keywords

Figure 4 (below) shows the similarity index between the codes that has been formed for the analysis. It is found that the similarity between social index and that with national identity is highly similar. This may be attributable to the nature of the codes. However, the codes try look at the human aspect of the game thus leading to similar results.

Similarity index
Figure 4.

Table 1 shows that the probability of occurrence of one code vis-a-vis another code. This shows that there is only 1 percent chance of social development to follow economic development, i.e. a segment coded as economic development has.01 chance of being coded as social development. The co-occurrence of economic development, and social development, international relations and national identity is minimal. That of politics and other identity and international relations is high. Other identity and religious identity are high. Thus, we will treat other identity and religious identity as one and the other code will be national identity.

Table 1: Probability Matrix.

A = Economic Development
B = Economic Development
Freq of A = 95
Freq of B = 95
Expected Freq = 15.4
B follows A = 52 (54.7%)
A precedes B = 52 (54.7%)
% of sequences = 53.1%
Z value = 10.15
P =.000
Economic Development Social Development International Relations Politics National Identity Other Identity Religious Identity
Economic Development 0 0.011 0.012 0.141 0.001 0.253 0.483
Social Development 0.006 0.232 0.514 0.534 0.146 0.473 0.46
International Relations 0.003 0.028 0.264 0.118 0.02 0.26 0.204
Politics 0.259 0.39 0.35 0 0.061 0.523 0.198
National Identity 0 0.382 0.071 0.196 0.08 0.292 0.5
Other Identity 0.311 0.484 0.46 0.557 0.504 0.178 0.684
Religious Identity 0.09 0.534 0.006 0.414 0.51

This section shows that the data thus collected is from various sources and different geographic locations. The coding has been done with the aid of software and the analysis is based on the codes thus formed. The coding statistics are presented above showing that the overlap between two codes is minimal. Thus reflecting the consistency of coding and the reliability of the coding thus conducted.


The content analysis of the articles related to world cup football has been reviewed using the analyzed in this section. This section will do an analysis of the articles, answering the research questions, and then comparing the results of the study with the literature in order to find any similarity or discrepancy.

Football and National Identity

National Identity

The content analysis of articles from newspaper to identify national identity development among football fans and the country where football is played is dealt in this section. While coding for national identity discourse as well as national identity sentiment shown by fans and supporters of national team previous research has identified a few like display of national flag or colour, or singing of the national anthem, or simply cheering for their home team (King 2000). These form of display of nationalism as well as the patriotic discourse of the media (Bernstein 2007).

This shows that the fans or supporters of the national teams display during the football matches have been termed by many sociologists as the display of national identity (Abell et al. 2007; Armstrong & Giulianotti 1998; Armstrong & Giulionotti 1997 ). The surging desire for the nation to win and display their superiority over the others arises in all during a game of football, especially during world cup. Such display of patriotism or nationhood is captured by the media.

The World Cup of 2006 was no different. During the event, the newspaper and magazine coverage of the event brimmed with pictures and anecdotes from the matches and display of national symbols all around the paper. For this, we consider a few keywords, which have been used to do the analysis. National identity has been associated with key words like flag, nation, nationalism, patriot, patriotism, colour, anthem, and identity.

The figure below shows that relevant terms and their occurrence in the coded areas of the articles. A consolidated chart of the frequencies of the keywords representing national identity has been shown in the following figure. These keywords have been used to code the sections of the articles representing national identity. The study shows that display of flags has the maximum frequency, next being national. The analysis shows that anthem appeared 13 times in the document, flag 125 times, nationalism 146 times, and patriotism 19 times. From this analysis, we can say that the nationalistic feeling and waving of the flag are two key creators of national identity during a football tournament or match.

Distribution of Frequency.
Figure 5: Distribution of Frequency.

National Flags

Analysing the occurrence of flag in articles and the showing of nationalism through the display of national flag has been captured by the media. The articles were full with references of the display of flag like articles titled “England fans raise flag of pride” or “Flying the flag for club and country”1.

The references inside the articles directly depict the rejuvenation of national identity through the raising of the national flag, with references like: “Raising the flag has become a feature at England home games”, “When you see the flag held up it gives you pride,” says Ben thumping his chest. “I’m England through and through and I’m proud of it.”, or “Italian Ultra supporters – not the usual role models – were holding their flag formation aloft.”2 Thus, the flag has become the identity creation model for the fans who watch football. As a fan mentions in the articles that the flag has become a symbol, with which they can become a part of and instils “pride in your team. A symbol of the fans and the flag coming together.”3

The analysis reveals that flag flying is considered by fans as a way of following the national team and creates a sense of goodwill among fans, which ultimately binds them as a nation. However, this very English of the flag is not shared by many of its European neighbours like Germany where flying the yellow, red and black coloured flag ignites a mixed and divided feeling:

In some parts of Germany, of course, waving flags is still associated with Hitler and that’s why they still do it… [So] German nationalism seems divided between a youthful inclusive kind in the large Western cities, and an embittered kind in smaller towns, that blames “outsiders” for their plight.”4

Independent described few German youths are depicted in the articles who were drunkenly rejoicing the victory of their team over the Swedes, when they mentioned that they had never flown the German flag as it was associated with Hitler. However, they did it that night as everybody other country was flying theirs to cheer their team. Thus, ages of stigma that prevented the Germans to display their love of nation was finally being broken by football and creating a new identity for them.

This divide was created between the eastern and the western part of the country after the fall of the Berlin wall. Such sentiments, which are ingrained in the creation of national identity and feeling of nationalism, are associated with the raising of the flag in Germany. This analysis seems to gain support from other researchers who have identified the relevance of flag in football matches with the building of national identity (Garland 2004; Giulianotti & Gerrard 2001).

National Anthem

A feeling of oneness is created through wins and not loosing. When the French team performed in a lacklustre manner, it gained no response of outburst from the fans. Whereas a win found accolade by countrymen in one unified voice: “The outburst of support, which filled the French capital’s streets with honking cars and flag-waving fans until the small hours, was in stark contrast to the resignation that accompanied the team’s lacklustre first-round performances.”5 Thus, flags can be associated with the rising national identity, which unifies the people. A display of flag actually binds the people through display of similar sentiments and brings them together to support their national team, which is the essence of nationalism.

France’s 3-1 victory of the national team over Spain and then against Brazil in the world cup 2006 reverberated in the public sphere. The newspapers headline “Giant!” in Le Perisien with a full page picture of their footballing heroes like Zidane, Ribery, and Henry celebrating France’s victory, or sports dailies simply headlined “Le Bonheur!” meaning happiness or “Un scénario fabuleux”.

So apart from flags, songs and anthem are also integral parts of display of national identity. Merseillais was sung by the common men to commemorate the victorious army who fought their battles during the French Revolution kindled national identity among the subalterns (Mason 1989) similarly football and their footballing heroes and their victories were commemorated by singing of songs.

This exaltation of the media over the national team’s win was reverberated in the masses who celebrated their team’s winning through public display of happiness: “Late-night metro trains reverberated to choruses of “On a gagné! On a gagné!” (“We’ve won! We’ve won!”), the traditional cry of victorious French supporters, until the last underground services stopped after midnight.”6 The creation of national identity is accentuated with the display of two strongest national symbols – the national flag and anthem: “And when the national anthem plays, every England fan that has one raises the flag.”7

Nevertheless, there is a twist in this tale as one article identifies that the absence of a national anthem of England actually has a deterring factor on the creation of nationhood among English, where contesting feeling exist. British anthem ‘God save the Queen’ and the English identity are mingled with the appearance of St. George’s Cross which one-article mentions it to be “Lack self-confidence”.

Therefore, the article reinforces the contribution of football in creation of a “new England”, where the national identity is not scared by colour. So another article reinforces the arrival of World Cup is marked by singing of songs, which is the essence of bonding between the English: “And just as Christmas comes with its own songs, when it is time for the World Cup or European Championship the airwaves tend to fill up with songs about football in which England is a three-syllable word.”8

Germany a scarred nation due to its political past has regained its national identity, especially the German youth who have begun to identity with their flag and anthem: “This is the first time young people have come out and identified with the German flag and the national anthem.” The German President, Horst Köhler, suggested that Germany had drawn lessons from the experience that applies far beyond the pitch. The team, he said, “not only brought joy to the whole country but also the courage to tackle issues that appear very difficult. We are on the right track.” He added, “We can achieve much if we dare to try something new.”9 Thus, national identity, flying the flag and singing of the national anthem or songs are closely related.

The Telegraph describes the creation of national identity among the Italians only when there is a football championship: “Italy and the Italians only really assume a national identity when the azzurri line up to do battle at either the World Cup or the European Championship”10. Thus, singing of the national anthem at the football matches creates a sense of national identity among the players and fans alike who feel united as a nation.


The number of occurrence of words, phrases and sections relating to the emerging nationalism among the masses due to the football World Cup 2006, appearing in the articles analysed has been shown in the following diagram. The data presented shows that the appearance of the words itself shows the significance of the game to the nation. Words and phrases related to the nation appeared more than 100 times in 61 articles.

Distribution of keywords (Frequency)

The unified symbol of flag waving and singing of the national anthem gives rise to the feeling of patriotism and nationalism among the masses. Football has been always associated with nationalist sentiments (Goig 2008) and patriotism (Abell & et al. 2007). Literature studying football and its importance to national and international politics, history and sociology has asserted that football has helped public to assert their pride in nation and unify their national identity (e.g. Abell & et al. 2007; Bernstein 2007; Goig 2008, et al.). such forging of nationalism and patriotism was also identitfied in the World Cup football coverage wehre the fans showed their natioalsitic feeling.

In the present analysis, the english team has been found to derive a new form of nationalism throguh the St. George’s cross and flag waving: “England football team is a key part of a new “progressive patriotism”, helping to reclaim the St George’s Cross from racists and provide the English people, regardless of their colour, with something to unite behind”11.

Thus depicting the sentiments of the people of France and the revival of nationalism through the French side winning is usually associated with football in many other countries (Abell & et al. 2007; Bernstein 2007; Brown 1998) etc. Such nationalism and ignited sentiments towards the nation is seen among fans, which builds a national identity through football.

The analysis captured the feeling of nationalism displayed by the masses through the World Cup media coverage. One such newspaper observed that fandom was restricted to club football and it is solely during World Cups that a surge of nationalistic feeling can be observed among people: “Mussolini’s Italy hosted the tournament (and won it) and since then nationalist sentiment has never been far from the Cup’s heart”.12

The demonstration of nationalistic sentiments has been the displayed everywhere wherein a non-biased observer will assume that national culture is defined by football. Another important area, which has been identified in the analysis, is that countries where the political expression is restricted, the degree of outlet of nationalism is higher. For instance, the Islamic states like Iran, or Tunisia or Saudi Arabia, who participated in World Cup 2006, the outlet of nationalism is higher as football has become a source of expressing their love of nation:

Tunisians are far more excited about success in football than celebrating Independence Day, which for them is just another reminder of how far they still lag behind developed countries…In Saudi Arabia…[it] is “a very good, apolitical way [of showing pride in Saudi identity], especially in a country where you do not have freedom of expression or organization.13

Further football is the vehicle for growth in nations where it has the power to break the social structure and norms of the society. It has also provided the avenue for the Germans to break free of their stereotypical image associated with Nazi-Germany and revealed their “best side to more than 3 million visitors to their country during the month long tournament, and who found a way of celebrating a pride in Germany devoid of the hard-edged nationalism of yesteryear”14.

Racial Identity

On doing an analysis of the racial identity created during the world cup, we coded the articles based on the words and phrases relevant to racism. The relevant areas were then coded and analyzed. The analysis showed that the frequency of colour related issues that erupted during the World Cup 2006, which received media attention, were 46 and segregation due to race were 46. So skin colour and racism were present in the footballing event.

Distribution of Frequency of Racial Identity Code.
Figure 6: Distribution of Frequency of Racial Identity Code.

A more qualitative analysis into the situation showed the reasons why race identity was created. Racial identity has been created along with national identity through the World Cup. The black players were at a disadvantage and were ‘booed’ in the media and by the supporters at many occasions. The black supporters too were at a disadvantage. The presence of racism was confirmed during the tournament coverage, which the players faced.

For instance, the national team of England was reported to be mostly black, which caused racial abuse being hurled against them in many of the matches. However, it was a triumph for England when English masses could accept a team, which was, not colour blind. Nevertheless, this was marred by the increasing visibility of St. George’s flag in World Cup, which has been dubbed as a ‘racist symbol’. However, it is believed that support for the national team has created a unified national identity, which has helped in breaking down racial barriers in England.

This reflects football as the messiah of all anti-racism campaigns. The inclusiveness of the game is acceptable from the above description. However, World Cup 2006 brought about a dark incident where this myth was shattered. It was the incident between Zidane and Materazzi:

Racism in football has a long history and, despite campaigns such as Kick it Out, remains ingrained in the beautiful game. Think of the monkey chants directed at England’s black players in Spain, after the description of Thierry Henry by Spain’s coach, Luis AragonŽs, as a “black shit“; Paolo Di Canio’s fascist salute in Italy; or, in Britain, Ron Atkinson’s vicious racist jibe at Marcel Desailly.”15

Racial identity is created in football through identification of race, colour, religion, and ethnicity. Such incidents were the creator of a racial identity, which divided the game on line of colour. Such incidents are not new to football as it was a concern emerging in the 70s and 80s (Back, Crabbe & Solomos 2001). Such racial chanting, violence and hooliganism in the name of race is common in football and has been reverberated in the 2006 World Cup.

Back et al.’s (2001) has suggested that racism against black players in England was prevalent, with increasing number of black players in the local football. However, in the World Cup, the English fans were cheering for their nation, and were colour blind: “When their players suffered racial abuse in Spain, the St George’s Cross – partly so long associated with negative nationalism – carried an anti-racism slogan.”16 This indicates that the point of view of fans in England is changing. However, this cannot be said in other countries.

Even though the French team comprised of mostly black players, rightwing racialism was present in the country, which showed the existing politics in the French society:

The predominantly African make-up of the French team and its unimpressive early World Cup performances had the National Front leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, fuming at the French coach, Raymond Domenech, for having “exaggerated the proportion of players of colour” in the team. Le Pen claimed that they did not show enough passion when singing the Marseillaise.”17

Xenophobia about race, colour and religion are still rampant in France, as in other countries like Italy, Eastern Europe, and Spain. Nevertheless, his again brings about another facet of the racial identity of France where the masses supported their team whole-heartedly:

The victory against Brazil saw people celebrating across the country, including the black youth from the banlieues. After the semi-final, more than half a million people gathered in the Champs-ElysŽes, waving French tricolours alongside Algerian and other African flags. It was a reminder of how France greeted its 1998 World Cup victory, with commentators, politicians and intellectuals suddenly celebrating “multicultural” France.”18

In the above mentioned case of France, the stress in on unity of the races through support for the national team. Thus, indicating national integration through creation of single national identity, which is not segregated by race or colour. This is the effect football has on racism as it diminishes the racial identity created among players, as well as fans:

On July 9…more than 1 billion people—will be watching… the 2006 football World Cup is played in Berlin…will mark a new moment in world history. Never before has there been a single event which so united the interest and affection of so many—rich and poor, African and Asian, Islamic and Christian, black and white and every other hue in which humankind comes.”19

Even though incidents of racism in international football rampant, there is a belief that football has an integrating power.

Other Identity

Football and hooliganism is a phenomenon, which has been widely researched in football related sociological studies. The occurrence of words like hooligans or Nazis was very few in the articles reviewed. Thus, World Cup 2006 can be said to have been fairly devoid of any hooliganism or Nazi behaviour. The reason that is expected for this is that the advent of hooliganism had reduced extensively in the 80s, which marked a gradual decline of the social identity. The only references of hooliganism that can be found in the media are related to the German authorities of World Cup 2006 who took strict measures to avoid any kind of hooliganism. The only demonstration of neo-Nazi group seen during the World Cup was to support the denial of holocaust by the Iranian president.

Distribution of keywords

It is believed that football hooliganism is a thing of past and incidents of such cases has declined considerably: “hooliganism no longer has that sort of central place and football has lost some of that baggage it had in the 1980s.”20

Thus, the other identity that has been analysed during football World Cup 2006 has reduced considerably with incidents of hooliganism or Nazism being reported during the event.

International Relations and Football


Political play with football as medium has been part for many times. A quantitative analysis of the keywords related to politics, viz. Politics, political, diplomatic and diplomacy. The frequency analysis of the coded content of the articles showed that 19.7 percent of the articles consist of segments concerned with politics and World Cup. The consistence of the appearance of political dialogue or rhetoric during a World Cup tournament has been analysed in this section and we see that football could not be disassociated with politics.

Distribution of keywords

The occurrence of the worlds likes diplomacy, diplomatic, politics and political has been showed in the above figure. The number of occurrence is not very high. However, the significance of these occurrences is high. A qualitative analysis will prove this point.

According to German law, denial of holocaust is a crime punishable by law. However, Iranian Vice President’s on his visit to Germany during the World Cup denied that holocaust ever happened. This sparked a political rhetoric between the Iranians and the Germans who feel that the vice president should be prosecuted, as “holocaust denial is illegal under German law”.21

Football and politics has also been identified among English where the politics arises with the English and the Scots. As a qualitative analysis reveals there are instances, where it is mentioned that the British view at football apolitically while the Sots do not: “The difference for the Scots is that they have got a political focus for this”22 Some politics have been found to be using football as a means to demonstrate their allegiance to the masses. In order to gain masses allegiance football is a tested campaigning tool. For such politicians, “being seen supporting England is even better domestic politics”23 has been used by many politicians aspiring to reach the masses. Thus, a display of patriotism of the politicians through football is a means to reach the masses that are already addicted to the game.

Further right wing leader in France, Le Pen gained a lot of media coverage by demonstrating his open disgust for mostly black French team and commenting, “A French team dominated by blacks cannot be truly representative of France”24 thus using football as a political tool has been observed during 2006 World Cup. Thus, football is used as a means of restating the political views that the party has. Le Pen merely restated his political ideologies making football an issue simply to ensure that most people read the party’s beliefs.

Further political sentiments during the world cup run high with differences between countries coming alive. One such instance is the case of Iran, who does not have a cordial relation with non-Islamic nations. They had some problem in getting their game fixture fixed. In another instance the political feelings were openly revealed during a match where: “The lack of any sense of allegiance to France was displayed in 2001 at a match in Marseilles between France and Algeria, when a large crowd of Arab youths in the stadium booed the national anthem and chanted slogans in praise of al-Qa’eda.”25

As long as football and its popularity exist, politics will be a part of the game. Previous researches have confirmed the link between politics and football (Bradley 2003; Chehabi 2006; Mehler 2008) and this study reconfirms it.

International Relations

The top three words appearing in the coded segment of the international relations code are diplomacy friendly and battle. Sports are supposed to have the power to develop international relations. So was it in case of football too.

While doping a quantitative content analysis of the coded section of international relations, we see that the five words, which have the maximum chi-square, are rival, war, cold, battle, and friendly. This indicates that the maximum probability of occurrence in international relations related issues when pertaining to football are talks of War, battles, friendship and rivalry. Figure 5, shows that rival is the word that has most occurrences and thus shows that has the probability of occurring the most. This indicates that in terms of international relations rivalry plays the most important role.

tof 5 words with maximum chi2 in internaitonal relations coded section.
Figure 9: tof 5 words with maximum chi2 in internaitonal relations coded section.

Football helps in reviving political relations, which had been spoiled through various circumstances between countries. It is considered the avenue for breaking barriers between nations and has been “instrumental in breaking down barriers”. However, the above analysis shows that international relations and football has a relation of rivalry, war, and friendship.

The political expression that has the highest score on politic class shows that a friendly relation between nations can be maintained in German world cup if and only if the fans behaved themselves: “But just how friendly Germans will really feel towards their visitors will depend a lot on how football fans from abroad behave.”26

Another political instance that was about to hamper the footballing event was the civil war at Ivory Coast:

Civil war threatens to derail the Elephants’ World Cup preparations with Jacques Anouma, president of the Ivorian Football Federation, warning that the national team may not even travel to Germany. “We ask all the protagonists to put down their arms and talk peace,” he implored. “Without peace there is no glory.” On the pitch, the Ivory Coast reached the final of last month’s African Cup of Nations, where they lost on penalties to Egypt.”27

World Cup has been used as a means to gain international attention for countries like Angola who have lived in darkness for 30 years of Civil War. It is believed by the coach of the national team of Angola that “After 30 years of civil WAR, to have qualified for the World Cup is a massive boost for our people and our aim in Germany is try and make them happy and proud.”28

The world cup is meant to be built on the ethos of the Olympics wherein nations stand together as ‘friends’ sharing the same “concerns, fears, worries and hopes” and aim to “build bridges across cultures and divides that existed in the past”. Here the world cup is held as a “tool for communication and social integration for disadvantaged young people from around the world, and social aspects are given priority over competition”.

For instance the Germans had the reputation of being non-friendly with other nations, especially due to the popular stereotypes post-World War II. However, 2006 World Cup was used by the Germans as a means to change their image as Nazi Germany: “It is our special task between now and the end of the World Cup to show that we’re more tolerant, friendly and open hosts than people have given us credit for until now.”

Further, the content also showed that war, battles, terrorism, political tension were all the destabilizing poles of the world, and football was the stabilizing pole on the other end. This reflects that most people and media coverage considers football to be an integrating tool.

In the article titled “The Politics of Fútbol”29 it is mentioned that the US foreign policy makers were eager for their team to put a good show but not win, not for “sensitivity to the quality of the sport” but was due to the country’s “national interest”. It is believed that US winning the World Cup will be the biggest “psychological bummer for the rest of the world and thus a diplomatic disaster” for the US. Thus, the article states that the purpose is to “World Cup may be to redistribute global tension”. Thus, football is a means of reducing international tension and reducing differences.

Above all, it must be noted that football is a tool for diplomacy to improve international relation as has been done by Germany in 2006 World Cup. Further, its relation to political relations is tepid and not strong: “…the World Cup has allowed fans to find a “soft” nationalism, one that celebrates national success without spilling over into hateful politics.”30 Thus making it a field where nationalistic sentiments emerge without spilling over to issues that are more serious.


Economic development

The economic benefit that Germany derived out of the world cup was an image as well as an economic campaign. Germany is a nation, which already has strong infrastructure and other amenities, as it is the third strongest nation in the world. The German economy was rising at a rate of 1.2 percent annually in 2006. The indirect economic benefit of the World Cup was estimated to be $15.1 billion. During the World Cup media brimmed with pessimistic reports concerning the macroeconomic effect of the World Cup of the event: “A recent report by the German Institute for Economic Research warned not to expect much of a macro-economic effect from the World Cup tournament.” The report expected the German economy to gain a mere.25 percent boost due to the tournament.

Football as a development tool has been reiterated in the articles reviewed. Football, according to the United Nations stated that is a means of economic development: “But football is more than a commercial magnet; in the last few years, it has become a neat and cheap way of advancing economic development.”31

In Germany, the World Cup has been a boon to the economy and business: “In June, three important indicators of activity in Germany’s services sector reached their highest level since the survey was founded in 1997. German unemployment fell. All told, the games are expected to bring in some [EURO] 2.2 billion to Germany’s retail sector.”32

The German economy was expected to get a great boost from the World Cup:

According to a study published by the Ruhr University in Bochum, gross domestic product (GDP) could increase by a total of nearly €8 billion in Germany between 2003 and 2010 purely on account of its hosting the 2006 World Cup; an average of almost 4000 jobs could be created ever y year. In a study presented in June 2005 the Postbank, a national World Cup sponsor, reckons that an additional 40,000 temporary jobs may be created. Of these, just under 10,000 could be made permanent. The Postbank expects economic growth in 2006 of 2 per cent, 0.3 percentage points as a result of the 2006 World Cup alone”33

Above all these Germany was able to present itself to the World as the “modern and innovative location for business, science, culture and sports” and helped in branding the country. Thus, football clearly brings about economic development to the region, especially an event like the World Cup.

Social development

World cup 2006 has been the arena for Germany to go through a makeover. As football’s importance lies mainly in ‘social development’, Germany took the best out of the World Cup 2006 to change it s image that Nazi regime had spread.

The social benefit of the World Cup is undeniable. The World Cup produced 50,000 new jobs in connection to the sporting event. The World provided an avenue to the government to project a new positive image of Germany to the world.

The event triggered various social events round the world: “Teams from 24 street football projects worldwide will meet in a specially designed football stadium, while films, art and photography exhibitions around the stadium will provide insights into the (football) culture in the participants’ home countries.”34 The world club triggered another initiative for the children, which aimed at preventing children from smoking and taking drugs:

One possibility is an activity day devoted to preventing children and young people from taking up smoking, part of the campaign “Kinder stark machen” (Making kids strong) sponsored by the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Security (BMGS).”35

Thus, the World Cup also helped nations in social development. The football has helped Germany to undergo a makeover and reunite its national identity. The old generation of the Germans were reluctant to demonstrate pride in nation, but the youths have started to express their nationalistic sentiments through public hoisting of flags or singing of the national anthem due to the World Cup 2006.


Football and international relations is an area which has been constantly been historically been neglected by the political scientists. International relation (IR) researchers and academicians have considered football irrelevant to the field of IR and have constantly neglected the field in their research or curriculum (Beck 2003).

Nevertheless, the importance of sports and more precisely football cannot be overlooked. Many researchers have studied the effect football has in international relations especially in building national identity (Abell & et al. 2007; Alegi 2002; Armstrong & Giulianotti 1998; Back, Crabhe & Solomos 2001), development (Alegi 2007; Baade & Matheson 2004) and politics (Armstrong 2002; Beck 2003; Beck 2005).

Our content analysis provides brings forth the importance of football, especially footballing mega-tournaments to international relations. The content analysis has found football to be highly instrumental in development of national identity among the masses. During the world cup, national sentiments arouse. The vehicle of the expression of the nationalistic sentiments has been through flag hoisting or singing of the national anthem.

The analysis demonstrates that flag has become a symbol for national integration and for the masses to show nationalism and support for their national team. English fans always had a reputation of displaying national unity in international games through waving of flags, displaying national colours or singing their national song. Further English hooliganism had attracted allot of academic interest. However, the studies were mostly from the cultural studies point of view.

However, we posit that football has a close connection with three aspects:

  1. identity building, especially national identity,
  2. connection of football with politics, especially international politics and diplomacy, and
  3. football as a growth engine.

Therefore, the research questions are threefold. First, we study is football create a sense of national identity. Second, does football facilitate the process of international political diplomacy and thus international relations? If yes, in what ways. Third, in what way football helps in the developmental aspects of a region. The research tries to answer these questions.

The methodology employed for the study was a content analysis of 77 articles, report and press releases collected in relation to World Cup 2006. The articles comprised of match reports, editorials, and magazine articles. The press releases were taken from the government website for World Cup 2006 and the report was the German government published Progress Report for World Cup 2006. These were then analysed in WordStat. A qualitative analysis was conducted on the article’s content.

The analysis showed that identity is created through football. Incidents of national identity being kindled among the masses due to the footballing event have been widely reported in the media, which comprised of 62.3 percent of the cases. Incidents like flag raising, singing of the national anthem, wearing the national colours, or displaying any other symbol representing the nation has been a common affair for the World Cup.

Matches of national teams were marked by supporters singing their anthem or hoisting their flags. The analysis also revealed that a feeling of nationalism was demonstrated even among the Germans who were otherwise reluctant to display their love of nation. The Germans earlier were reluctant to display yellow, red and black, sing their anthem, or raise their flag. However, world cup 2006 showed an outburst among German youths who were eager to display their nationalism. Further English or Spanish were always known for their exuberant display of nationalism. 2006 World Cup was found to be no exception.

Racial identity was created among the masses through football, which was again a source of creation of national identity among many. This was mostly prevalent among the people who represented Islamic nations. The participation of countries like Tunisia or Iran marked the creation of an Islamic identity among the crowd. International conditions and the war against terror, market by the war against the Islamic jehadis or the war in Iraq, marked the western supremacy against the Islamic community.

Thus for these countries religious identity is the ingredient for the creation of national identity. Further in many of these countries open, apolitical, display of nationalism cannot be displayed. Hence, football provided an avenue for the display of nationalism thus creating their national identity through religion.

Further football hooliganism is marked by racist remarks or abuses, violence, etc. by fans. This is said to have created an identity among the fans which has been considered to the source among a group of people. The violence in such cases is based on individual differences. For instance, the football fans of England displayed their national identity through the display of St. George’s flag, which is again a racist symbol.

Hooliganism, which was mostly associated with the English fans, used St. George’s flag as a creator of national identity between the English. Racist chants by the supporters during the matches with Italy, France and eastern European countries can be marked as hooliganism, which helps in the creation of a unified identity for those supporters. This analysis finds support in psychological study on hooligans, which shows that hooliganism helps in formation of social identity among fans (Van Hiel et al. 2007).

This was termed s the creation of post-national identity (King 2000). Thus, the analysis shows that identity is created even through the creation of otherness in football. This otherness is based on race, religion, ethnicity, and even gender.

International relations have been found to have a close connect with football. However, the analysis is inconclusive as to if football helps in bettering or worsening of the diplomatic relation between countries. Football in one hand has been the forbearer of peace and friendship between countries. On the other hand, it has brought to surface the differences and accentuated it rather than dissipating it.

One example that can be drawn from the analysis in this context is in the case of Iran and Germany. Iran, being a Muslim nation, has an unsettling relation with the European countries. Nevertheless, when Iranian vice president visited Germany for the world cup football, the German government gave him “cold shoulders”, especially after the Iranian president’s denial of the holocaust. This created some unrest among the Jewish groups and support from neo-Nazi groups.

Clearly, this incident actually did not advance any diplomatic relation between the nations, and only increased tension. Further, the racist remark against Zidane, who is Algerian Muslim by origin but is a French citizen and footballing idol, sparked unrest among the Islamic community as well as in France. Such incidents in football are not actually bearers of peace. However, instances of diplomacy and mending of relations has been observed in the world cup. The bidding process at the World cup has become a major public relations and diplomatic affair. Football is considered the cultural and political ramification and helps in maintaining international relations. So football as a vehicle to advance peace and friendliness cannot be wholly supported through this analysis.

World cup and its development to the region it is held is undeniable. During the 2006 world cup German economy gained a boost in economy by €8 billion and added 4000 jobs related to the event. Other economic advantages the country gained is through increased business and commercial avenues that the tournament opened up for the country. Infrastructural development was also another advantage that the region gained from football. Apart from this, social development was the key to the footballing event in 2006.

Cultural development with people from different countries flocking in the country for the world cup, and the impact it had on the German people. Further, Germany got the opportunity to display themselves as the “perfect host” and German “friendliness”. Germany used the sporting event to break its stereotype and re-build its image. Further, Germans also used this event to rejuvenate the nationalistic feeling among people, which was lost post World War II.

In conclusion, it can be said that football is a major creator of national identity among masses. Football has helped to build national identity through various means – religion, nationalism, race, or cultural believes. The game has helped in spreading goodwill, solidarity, and development. However, it has also triggered or accentuated differences. Thus, the effect of football on international relations is manifold.


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  1. BBC News, 2006.
  2. BBC News, 2006.
  3. BBC News, 2006.
  4. The Independent, 2006.
  5. The Independent, 2006.
  6. The Independent, 2006.
  7. BBC News, 2006.
  8. BBC News, 2006.
  9. Time Europe, 2006.
  10. Telegraph, 2006.
  11. BBC News, 2006.
  12. Time Europe, 2006.
  13. Time Europe, 2006.
  14. Time Europe, 2006.
  15. Iran Daily, 2006.
  16. BBC News, 2006.
  17. Ibid. 16.
  18. Ibid. 16.
  19. Time Europe, 2006.
  20. BBC News, 2006.
  21. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 2006.
  22. BBC News, 2006.
  23. The Independent, 2007.
  24. Telegraph, 2006.
  25. Ibid. 24.
  26. Telegraph, 2006.
  27. Telegraph, 2006.
  28. Ibid 27.
  29. New York Times, 2006.
  30. Ibid 12.
  31. Time Europe, 2006.
  32. Time Europe, 2006.
  33. 5th progress report FIFA World Cup 2006.
  34. Ibid 32.
  35. Ibid 32.
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