Challenging Representations

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​Coby Carner, Student, Master's degree, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Sport and Systems: A Postcolonial Perspective on the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Jason Francis  

There have been several reported cases surrounding Qatar’s kafala system, the 2022 Men’s FIFA World Cup and exploitation of migrant workers. The purpose of this study is to critically investigate Qatar’s kafala system and demonstrate how postcolonial practices are rooted in colonial practices for economic gain. This work is important and needs to be reinterpreted as Qatar has been the recipient of bad press and demonization because of the kafala system, which is the relationship between employers and migrant workers. The paper offers the perspective that Qatar’s practices, much like other postcolonial nations, reflects colonial hegemony. This perspective aims to contribute to the academic fields of sport management, sport in society and history. The method used in this paper is a literature review. The knowledge derives from a combination of journal and newspaper articles. The results of this literature review demonstrate that Qatar should not be held in contempt for using the kafala system because it is a by-product of postcolonialism. Lastly, this paper is only meant to present a critical perspective, it is recommended that scholars and stakeholders from diverse disciplines investigate the macro-challenges postcolonial societies encounter while attempting to transcend colonial strongholds.

Soccer and the Problem of Online Racism: How Is Soccer Managing This Crisis? View Digital Media

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Daniel Kilvington,  Kevin Hylton,  Jonathan Long  

Although overt racism in English soccer stadiums has decreased in recent decades, we have observed an increase of football related racism across social media. In 2022, The Alan Turing Institute released a report which tracked abuse on Twitter towards Premier League players across the 2021-22 season. Their machine learning tool found that there were 59,871 abusive tweets directed at Premier League footballers with 68 percent of players receiving abuse at least once. This paper first contextualises the debate and explore factors that have exacerbated racism online, and consider the ways in which contemporary soccer fandom has been impacted by digital media performances.The paper then discusses our empirical work by drawing on semi-structured interviews with 10 professional soccer clubs (4 Premier League, 2 Championship, 2 League One, 2 League Two). The paper critically analyses the response, or lack of, by English soccer clubs in the fight against racism and other forms of discrimination on social media. Our research illustrates that: there are a number of systematic failings undermining soccer's attempts to address this issue including minimal or no co-ordination, unclear guidelines, ad hoc educational provision, and a culture of secrecy at many clubs. Online racism and abuse towards players, clubs and fans is one of, if not the most important issue facing the 'beautiful game' at this time. It is fundamental that we utilise research to understand and combat this problem. This paper therefore closes by providing a series of recommendations regarding how to challenge online racism in soccer/sport.

Social Media and the Self-representation of Black Queer Athletes in the Women’s National Basketball Association View Digital Media

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Kendall Rallins  

This paper examines the media (mis)representations and self-representations of Black queer women athletes in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). WNBA players have found paths of resistance and self-representation through social media and their relationships with individual journalists in response to continuous misogynoir, colorism, and heteronormativity that pervades sports and sports media. Specifically, I highlight how three prominent WNBA players craft a counter-discourse about themselves, their media representations, and their treatment through their use of social media. By examining Black queer WNBA players’ use of social media and other tools of self-representation through Black queer theory, my analysis demonstrates that athletes are not only naming the discrimination that they experience within media, by brands, and by the WNBA, but also they are utilizing social media for self-representation, articulation, and community building. Social media can be a liberatory space, yet these athletes also understand it to be a highly surveilled space that reinforces misogynoir and heteronormativity which lead them to opt for selective engagement. These choices are driven by the economic strain they face and the potential gain if they can present themselves in ways that produce more economic opportunities. I conclude that athletes have sought out platforms for self-representation and have created communal spaces that facilitate players being represented in more nuanced ways.

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