Commercialization in Norwegian Football

Por: Bente Ovedie Skogvang.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Introduction

One of the major changes in football during the last twenty years is the increase in commercialisation. The purpose of this paper is to discuss how players in Norwegian elite football clubs experience the consequences of commercialisation.
Methods

I have done observations of the female and male national teams in international championships, observations of practices, meetings, and matches in three elite football clubs, plus interviews with 22 players (11 men and 11 women).

Results

Both positive and negative consequences of commercialisation in Norwegian football were mentioned by the players, and it was shown that contemporary football is a changing, complex field (Bourdieu 1993). For both females and males, more money in to football meant: a) better playing and training facilities, and b) full and part-time playing opportunities. The importance of players physical skills for creating higher economical income was also mentioned. On the negative side it was mentioned: a) increased investor and club owner influence on the sporting area, b) less club loyalty, c) some male players are overpaid, d) voluntary work is less valued, e) sponsors and media decide the football agenda, and f) female players also focus on that male football gets more attention and is better financed than female football.

Discussion/Conclusions

Bourdieus field theory (Bourdieu 1993, Bourdieu & Wacquant 1992, Wacquant 1995) with elite football as a subfield was employed in this study. According to players, commercialisation in professional football can be positive for both men and women, but at the same time it challenges traditional values in Norwegian sport. Players focus on negative consequences of the changes with more income, more power to the media, sponsors and investors and less to the clubs, coaches, players and volunteers. The term capital (op.cit.) is used to describe what gives power and status within sport, and the results might also show some changes here. Physical capital is important for the players, and within commercialisation that is important to create economic capital. According to gender the findings are ambiguous. Female players do need more than physical capital to get more media attention and better finances. On the other side male players in media are often described as greedy, young men who want to earn as much money as possible (economic capital) and get all the publicity they can get for increasing their status (symbolic capital). However it is interesting that the players, especially male players, focus on the importance of family, togetherness with the team mates (social capital) and the enjoyment of the game itself as most important for them and their performance.

References

  • Bourdieu, P. (1993) Sociology in Question. London: Sage Publishers.
  • Bourdieu, P. & Wacquant L. J. D. (1992) An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Wacquant, L. J. D. (1995) "Pugs at work: bodily capital and bodily labour among professional boxers", Body & Society, 1 (1): 65-93.

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