The language of football: a cultural analysis on selected world cup nations

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This essay aims to describe how actions in the football field relate to the different national teams’ and countries’ cultural understanding of football and how these actions become spoken dialects within a language of football. Inspired by Edgar Schein’s framework of culture, the Brazilian and Italian national team football cultures were examined. The basis of the analysis was both document and video analysis. The documents were mostly research studies and popular books on the national football cultures, while the video analysis included all matches including Italy and Brazil from the World Cup in 2010 and 2014. The cultural analysis showed some coherence between the national football cultures and the national teams, which suggested a national dialect with the language of the game. Each national dialect seemed to be based on different basic assumptions and to some extent specific symbolic actions on the field. The actions were found to be quite dynamic, which questions the cultural stability at the national team level. Furthermore, the analysis also revealed some incoherence between the national teams and the Brazilian and Italian football culture in general. The results question the idea of the national team as a symbol of a particular national football culture.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSport in Society
Issue number5-6
Pages (from-to)599-611
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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