Sex, Football and the Media – The Case of South Africa and the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Maria Zuiderveld
Stockholm University and Södertörn University


This study examines how gender interplays with the news agenda during a very large scale event, in a country still undergoing political transition and where journalism plays a significant role in the nation-building process. The present study brings new knowledge to this area by examining the news agendas in South Africa on a specific gender-related issue: the rights of sex workers and trafficking victims, concerning men and children as well, but women in particular. This issue is often debated in connection with global sports events such as the World Cup. Drawing on interviews with media practitioners and on discourse analysis, the purpose of this study was to examine the news discourse on sex labour and trafficking and the connection with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The findings suggest that the media discourse during the event was permeated with the rhetoric of nation-building. The combination of sport, media, and nationalism in a country in transition resulted in the ‘symbolic annihilation’ (Tuchman, 1978b) of a specific gender issue.

Click here to read the article  in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum

About the Author

MARIA ZUIDERVELD is a PhD-student of Journalism at The Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, Stockholm University, and Lecturer in Journalism at Södertörn University. Her thesis focuses on gender in the newsroom in southern Africa. She has previously worked as a reporter and news presenter for the Swedish public service television broadcaster SVT.

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