Football, or soccer as Americans know it, has been dubbed “The Beautiful Game” time and time again. Unfortunately, in recent decades, this term has turned ugly. European football supporters have created a notoriously bad reputation for themselves due to a shocking number of racist occurrences during matches, and recently, with the rise of social media and the wider use of smartphones and laptops, on online discussion threads where messages reflect hate towards players and teams. In England, racist displays have been apparent since the 1970s, and they have not gone away. While steps have been taken to end racism in football, England remains one of the nations where these problems are most noticeable. The purpose of this study is to examine the rhetorical characteristics of English football fans’ online forum messages that reflect the ties among racism, nationalism, and national identity. In this study, I used rhetorical criticism, more specifically the method of narrative criticism, to analyze the rhetorical characteristics of online English football fans’ message exchanges while also implementing Critical Race Theory and Performance Theory to help facilitate my analysis. This study points to how an absent presence of racism dominates the online forums through the performance of fans’ nationalism and national identity. This analysis also describes how fans’ sense of nationalism leads them to question structures within English football that lead to poor team performance, but they still do not question their own whiteness or how structures within football may be racist.


Bostdorff, Denise


Communication Studies


Communication Technology and New Media

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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