An Analysis of Nationalism Portrayed During World Cup Championships

Lastly in 2002 came true, World Cup championship, has done for the first time in 1930 in Uruguay. Since 1930, many countries which have different living standarts, join the championships.

Soccer equals inequalities. Everyone shares the same enthusiasm. Socioeconomic class differences do not matter. And in some cases, like Belgium and Spain, soccer unifies multi-ethnic or multi-national states. What really matter is being the supporter of a winning soccer team and waiting for seeing thier team to make history. During matches, people take to the streets with their flags, singing their national anthems, so they are full of nationalism. Couples stop arguing, politicians forget battles, no worries about the future, because during 90 minutes their coutry becomes the greatest all over the World. Problems can wait another 90 minutes to be solved. The biggest problem of nationalism is forgetting soccer that is just a game and it is a game to help to fell proud of your nation. The ugly face of nationalism come up in this case which is called football hooliganism that is seen in many countries.

This paper will going to argue World Cup that encourages and promotes nationalism and xenophobia.

Nationalism and football are borned together and live together. Nationalism is a feeling of faithfullness for your own country, it is a feeling of being better than other countries and being different in a good sense, than others. This movement was born in the second half of the eighteenth century (J. Perry, 2000); (E. Perry, 2000).

When people look at the history of the soccer, can easily see that soccer was born nearly in the same century with the nationalism. Acoording to Brown (1998), If national identity is the most developed identity of modernity, football is its most popular sport/spectacle (p. 160). So, during World Cup championships, the sociological definition of nationalism breaks down and nationalism becomes a feeling of superiority through sporting victories. Even if someone reject loving nationalism because of its complex definition, becomes nationalist during World Cups. For the reason that, the imagined community depends on the national players. Players can exalt their own nation, so soccer is defined as the national game (Brown, 1998).

Singing is a very important part of the Cups. People sing their national anthems and write songs for their teams. Important songs which were written by Irish and English people are like their national anthems. Irish people use the song called You will never beat the Irish and the English use the song called Football is coming home, to express their nationalism. These are the good and not bothering examples of showing peoples nationalism (Caulkin, 2002 & Brown, 1998).

The relationship between soccer and nationalism becomes dirty in some countries. The real definition of nationalism has changed by some group of people. People who support extreme nationalism and xenophobia are called in different names in different countries. To give examples; Ultras in Italy, cabezas rapadas (skinheads) in Spain, hooligans in England and skinheads in Germany. All this peoples organisations were generated by political causes. By looking at the history of some extreme nationalist groups, someone can easily understand the effect and the importance of these groups; During 80s the ultra phenomenon in Italy became a model for Greece, Yugoslavia, Southern France and some of the Baltic States. Forza Italia (go on Italy!), the name of the political party of Berlusconi was given by the inspiration of a football slogan in 80s. Berlusconi saw soccer one of the most important issue in their country to represent their culture. After the World Cup 1990, candidates of the Forza Italia were called gli azzurri (the Blues), because the uniforms of the Italian national team had blue color. This shows an extereme example of the relationship of nationalist politics and soccer in Italy (Brown, 1998; Duke & Crolley, 1996).

Extreme nationalism and xenophobia started during the Hitlers Nazi regime in Germany. In 30s and 40s soccer played contra the German players was really effected by this regime. Approximately ten years ago, the matches played between England and Germany were seen as wars. England team used war-like language. German people used slogans that were used in the World War II. To give an example; Actung Surrender!, Lets Blitz the Fritz. All the newspapers wrote about England-Germany matches, Two World War and One World Cup because of their point of view about a nation which can express itself in two ways- war and sport. There was also a war-like match between England and Argentina in France World Cup 98 ( Brown, 1998; Ford, 2001).

Since the first World Cup championship done in 1930, the 2002 World Cup, was the best in terms of the concept of nationalism. Although England, known as one of the most nationalist country, was very calm in the 2002 World Cup. None could escape from the idea of nationalism and it was difficult to be anti-nationalist during the matches by painting faces, holding flags and singing national anthems. However, being nationalist was not a bad thing in this championship because there were no extreme nationalist people or hooligans as in the past Cups (http://www.observer.co.uk). The difference between the past World Cups and the 2002 one, was that nationalism existed only in peoples heart and all countries were together to celebrate any success. Swick (2002) mentioned that, the world as seen in reflections from the Cups. To give examples, Norwegians found cheering on Senegalese, Americans were taking interest in the match played between Turkey and Costa Rica, Japanese people painted their faces red, white and green to show their interests in the Italian players etc. None could dream those pictures in somewhere else. It was the first time that a World Cup promoted nationalism in a good way (Swick, 2002).

 

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