Nationalism and Sporting Culture: A Media Analysis of Croatia’s Participation in the 1998 World Cup
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The past two centuries have witnessed the rise of nationalist movements and widespread nationalism. As these movements gained strength in Europe, sport played a role in their development. Media representations of sport recount events in a way that reinforces cultural values and this research investigates media representations of Croatian nationalism in the weeks surrounding the country’s third place victory in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Sociological theories alongside more contemporary theories of sport and nation construction are considered. Croatian newspapers were analyzed for elements of national identity construction. The study concludes that the 1998 World Cup played an important role in Croatia’s on-going construction of nationhood and invention of nationalist traditions. This research further demonstrates sport’s ability to evoke strong emotions that are difficult to witness in other areas of social life and the direct role of sport in garnering nationalism.