Playing with tension: national charisma and disgrace at Euro 2012

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By the time of Euro 2012, deepening tensions of nationalism and internal social struggles were developing across Europe in worsening conditions of systemic crisis. The official football ideology of UEFA conceives Euro 2012 as a civilizing platform for mutual respect and brotherhood between competing nations. In contrast, what I call Hyper-Critical Theory conceives of football competitions like Euro 2012 as part of a de-civilising ‘sports mode of production’ that necessarily produces crisis conditions, alienation and violence on a mass scale, fostering nationalism, militarism and racism. Between these polar perspectives, the figurational sociology of sport associated with Norbert Elias proposes that major international football competitions like Euro 2012 creates and dissipates contingent tensions of ‘group charisma’ and ‘group disgrace’. Study of Euronews ‘post-national’ coverage of Euro 2012 allows their explanatory adequacy to be compared. In a competition structure like the Euros no social group – players, officials, media or fans – is able to disregard entirely the field capabilities of the ‘best minority of 11’ in the serious game of exemplifying the group charisma of nations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-221
Number of pages19
JournalSoccer & Society
Issue number2
Early online date29 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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