‘‘Just because he's black’’: Identity construction and racial humour in a German U-19 football team

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Despite its status as the global game, football has been noted for having problems with racism, and yet relatively little research has actually looked at this topic from a discourse analytical perspective. This paper addresses this gap by exploring the use of racial humour in a German male under-19 football team. Drawing on audio-recordings of interactions among the players on the sideline and substitutes’ bench during, before and after football matches and training, as well as interviews with players, and team observations, we analyse and critically discuss some of the ways in which team members make humorous comments about specific racial, ethnic or national groups when constructing and expressing team membership and negotiating their own and others’ identities within the team. Findings illustrate that, on the one hand, team members express their appreciation of the cultural diversity within their team in an attempt to maintain or enhance team cohesion, but on the other hand, they often use racial humour to create distinctive subgroups thereby fragmenting the team and assigning and foregrounding racial identities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Pages (from-to)83-96
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.

    Research areas

  • Language Studies - Identity, Racism, Humour, Football, Discourse strategies