Ohio University

HomeJournal IssuesSubmissionsEditorial Board

The Other Algeria: Zidane, World Cup Soccer, Globalization, and the Media

David Winterstein
Ohio Uinversity

page (1 of 7)


In the study of global media flows, one of the central concerns is balance in quantity, quality, and access to information. This paper explores the discourses produced around French team captain Zinédine Zidane’s head butt of Italian defensive player Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup Final pitting France against Italy. Elite discourses from the French and Algerian presses focused on their respective national identities, while public reactions were very limited, concentrating on violence and racial portrayals. Both elite and popular discourses suggest a serious marginalization of Algeria in the global media flows stemming from this event. This study further finds the market for satellite broadcasts, in its relatively unfettered state is not adequate for the possibility of national identity negotiation. Combining critical discourse analysis with political economic analysis allows us to uncover a continuing process of marginalization that influences the development of countries such as Algeria.

The Other Algeria: Zidane, World Cup Soccer, Globalization, and the Media

Media flows have been of concern to scholars of global communication almost since the discipline’s inception. With the development of more rapid means of dissemination and greater bandwidth, these flows are of even greater consequence in the 21st century. Throughout the history of research on media flows in the global arena, key concerns have been access, accuracy of representation, and balance. As a result, marginalization due to imbalance and representations based upon limited information are of central importance to the study of media flows. In this paper, I explore the ability for the Algerian public to participate in the global media flow surrounding the 2006 Soccer World Cup. During that tournament, Zinédine Zidane, the team captain of the French national soccer team and of Algerian heritage, played a controversial role in the final game that pitted Italy against France. During this match Zidane head butted Italian defenseman Marco Materazzi with about 10 minutes left in the game. Zidane was given a red card and sent off the field. Italy went on to win the match but spectators and Zidane fans around the world participated in the media frenzy that followed his actions on the field. Because the soccer World Cup (World Cup hereafter) has become a global media spectacle, it is important for international communication scholars to understand how the individuals, teams, and nations involved are represented. That is to say, what is said about the participants and how it is said is critical to our comprehension of mediated cultural relations in the 21st century.


If, as Tomlinson & Young state, “analyzing the global sorts spectacle is a way of reviewing the contribution of international sport to the globalization process generally, and to processes and initiatives of global inclusion and exclusion,”[i] then understanding the ways in which the Algerian media represented Zinédine Zidane’s final match (and particularly his ignominious send-off in the final) during the 2006 Soccer World Cup in Germany is a means to understanding the marginalization of Algeria, and of Kabylia (the region from which Zidane’s family hails) within Mediterranean society. Mediated representations of Mediterranean society are largely dictated by European control of the airwaves and definition of the spectacle that is the World Cup. Finally, this case can be seen as a microcosm of how Africa as a continent is treated or not treated by media in Europe and North America.

Since the Second World War, international communication scholars have consistently found that the developing world has been left out of global media flows; perhaps this goes without saying because development has just as consistently been defined by the highly industrialized West. Many of these studies have also focused on what countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America know through these global media flows of which they remain at the margins. On the other hand, little work is done to try to understand how people on the margins participate in global media flows, for despite their marginalization, people all over the world participate in mediated interactions. The marginalization of the developing world is quite clear in mediated spectacles such as the soccer World Cup. Nauright makes this point, saying:

In the 21st century sport is an integral part of an increasingly global sport-media-tourism complex that is vastly uneven within and between societies. While resistance to the global expansion and consolidation of media- and event-driven sport is possible, and indeed at times successful, it is clear that the international organisation and presentation of sport serves the interests of global, national and local elites—the cosmopolitans. Sports spectators and participants, on the other hand, are increasingly removed from the sporting product, whether by spatial relocation driven by the need for newly constructed sporting spaces for major events, relocation of teams to larger cities, increasing continentalisation of competitions, or new mediated sport forms.[2]

National Identity and Global Sports Events

Putting global mediated reactions to Zinédine Zidane’s performance in the final game of his career at the 2006 World Cup into perspective requires an understanding of some of the ways that national identity is negotiated, as well as some of the ways that global sports events are structured and presented, both as a transnational industry and as part of media institutions. What follows is neither an exhaustive analysis of the literature on national identity nor on global sport as both are areas that have been copiously addressed by scholars; rather, I seek to summarize the important works that lie at the intersection of these two focal points of social research.

While much important work on national identity has come out of political science and cultural studies, and while these provide important perspectives from which to view global flows of information, research has less systematically explored the popular cultural influence. Addressing this lack with an analysis of the role of popular culture in national identity negotiation, Edensor  brings up several important critiques of some of the major theorists of national identity negotiation which are relevant to our understanding here, especially as World Cup soccer, despite being played at the elite level in the world, is integrally incorporated into popular culture.[3] In criticizing Gellner’s Nations and Nationalism,[4] Edensor states that Gellner focuses too extensively on high culture, ignoring the more evolutionary nature of popular culture. As a result, he finds Gellner’s analysis too rigid, not allowing for shifts and changes over time. Edensor has a similar critique of Hobsbawm & Ranger’s The Invention of Tradition[5], stating that they focus too much on what he calls the primordialization of the nation, ignoring any continuity between practices that took place before the inception of the nation, and those sanctioned by the state itself. While acknowledging Anderson’s idea that the print media are important as they encodethe na, stating that they focus too much on what he calls the primordialization of the nation, ignoring any continuity between practices that took place before the inception of the nation, and those sanctioned by the state itself. While acknowledging Anderson’

In response to these types of critiques, I propose viewing national identity as habitus, following Wodak et al, who state:

National identity is a complex of common or similar beliefs or opinions internalized in the course of socialization – with regard to the aspects named by Hall and Kolakowski as well as to certain outgroups distinguished from the national “we group” – and of common or similar emotional attitudes with regard to these aspects and outgroup, as well as common or similar behavioral dispositions, including inclusive, solidarity-oriented and exclusive, distinguishing dispositions and also in many cases linguistic dispositions. Insofar as this common complex, which can also be viewed with Mead as a specific ‘generalized Other’, is internalized, that is individually acquired, it is also, depending on the degree of identification, more or less a part of the individual’s identity complex.[9]

That is to say, we must acknowledge the multiple influences on national identity. This is critical as more layers of influence above the nation state itself become apparent. The relationship between local and global flows that convey different discourses relating to national identity must be taken into consideration. As Lloyd stated:

the interaction between the global and the local is neither a one-way process nor entirely new. The historical and social context in which this interaction and interpretation takes place is of paramount importance. New technologies affect the speed with which global and local cultural flows are transmitted and exchanged and change the terrain on which political struggles take place.[10]

Thus new levels of influence come into play in the 21st century not merely because more influences are prevalent, but because more sources of information bring us news of the Other, which we must reconcile with our identities.

Because we are investigating global discourses relating the World Cup to national identity, we must also question the conception of national identity that is in play here. Addi describes a rift between Algerian and French thinking on national identity:

National belonging in Algeria is seen as by jus sanguinis – that is by heritage, not by jus solis – those belonging by birth within the territory. This is due largely to the colonial experience in which Algerians were denied membership, and thus only belonged to the political collectivity that existed outside of the colony’s French-defined membership. As a result, taking French nationality upon immigration would amount to “renouncing Islam and his personal origins.[11]

This conception of national belonging through heritage rather than through birth within the territory is essential in Algerian discourses about immigrants to France, and in particular, in the construction of Zinédine Zidane as an Algerian sports hero. As a result, we must not only understand that there are multiple influences on national identities, elite and popular, historical and contemporary, local and global, but we must also consider that the concept of identity itself is polysemic in the global arena.

Because it has almost become commonplace in the literature on international sport to state that events such as the World Cup and the Olympic Games are used by nations to build and maintain national identity through the performance of national sports teams, it is vital that we examine how this process of identity building takes place. We must focus especially on the discourses that are created, and the ways in which they are expressed. While acknowledging a need for greater attention to electronic media, we must attempt to look at the whole variety of media involved in producing a discourse about national identity, as no single medium operates in a vacuum. This is particularly so in relation to global events where some media are involved in a reconstruction of the discourses present in other media.

“In constructing a unique national identity – producers of discourses focus on elements of inclusion, but this simultaneously emphasizes inter-national differences.”[12] This may seem like a rather obvious point in light of Schlesinger’s[13] and others’ statements that the process of identity negotiation involves both inclusion and exclusion, but it is one that is critical to our understanding of the global presentation of mediated sporting competitions such as the World Cup, and particularly informative about Zinédine Zidane’s performance during the final match of the 2006 version of this event.

Global sports events

In relating discourses of national identity to international sport, Delgado notes that international sport “is the ideal vehicle through which political ideologies and senses of nationalism can be expressed and contested.”[14] Giulianotti & Finn added precision to this statement by proposing that through the combination of the flag, anthem, top players, and VIPs, we are strongly encouraged to view international sport as an essential element in national identity promotion.[15]

While agreeing with the recognition of multiple influences on national identity, some researchers also point out that sporting discourse involves divisive elements alongside all the trappings of unity that are discursively mustered. Maguire, in looking at sport in relation to imagining community and invention of national tradition, explains that, “Internally (from Elias, Anderson, and Hobsbawm & Ranger) sports dreams can unify nations, but externally, they present divisive, myth forming and dangerous images.”[16] One of the important images that Maguire found in his analysis is the myth of the “superman” which is mapped onto top players.[17] Through the promotion of key images, a nation is able to have a brief moment in the global media spotlight. While Maguire points to the “unifying context” of the rules of soccer, he rejects this as the sole emphasis.[18] Rowe also evokes this tension between unity and divisiveness, stating:

This split discourse of sport is produced in the interplay of tensions between ‘noble’ universalism and ‘base’ partisanship. Sport’s reliance on passionate national differentiation and celebrity is so thoroughgoing as to question its suitability as an exemplar of global culture.[19]

Thus, discourses of national identity and difference are perhaps even more important than the communion of international sport. Giulianotti & Finn continue this thinking, mentioning that the display of nationally recognized symbols allow for the unification of the “imagined community” through media coverage. Most symbols of national importance do not have global currency which makes them symbols of exclusion when seen from outside a given nation.[20] Further dividing the global public is the potential for alienating local groups within the nation as well. Nauright reminds us of this, stating that media coverage of international sports competitions tend to bind peoples to national identities – typically dominant identities.[21]

One notably absent characterization in international sport follows from Addi’s statement that the concept of national identity is not viewed the same way in France and in Algeria. There are very few analyses of the mediation of global sport that acknowledge the contributions of African nations. There seems to be an assumption that Western conceptions of sport, media coverage, and national identity, all of which are abundant in these analyses, are adequate for describing the entirety of the international sport-media-national identity relationship. For this reason, it is important to look into the political economy of global sport. Maguire presents a good analysis of this aspect.[22] In this paper, I will point out only some elements pertinent to the understanding the Algerian discourses about the 2006 World Cup below. One key consideration comes from Nauright, who notes that “globalization has also forced some of the traditional spectators out of possibility of participating – costs are too high.”[23]

[1] [2][3] [4] [5] [Appendix A] [Appendix B] Next Page


[i] Alan Tomlinson & Christopher Young, “Culture, Politics, and Spectacle in the Global Sports Event – An Introduction, “Chapter 1 in A. Tomlinson & C. Young (eds.) National Identity and Global Sports Events: Culture, Politics, and Spectacle in the Olympics and the Football World Cup (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006), 1.

[2] John Nauright, “Global games: culture, political economy and sport in the globalised world of the 21st century,” Third World Quarterly, 25, 7 (2004), 1334.

[3] Tim Edensor, National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life (New York: Berg, 2002).

[4] Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983).

[5] Eric Hobsbawm & Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983).

[6] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1983).

[7] Anthony Smith, National Identity (London: Penguin, 1991). and Anthony Smith,   Nationalism and Modernism (London: Routledge, 1998).

[8] John Hutchinson, Modern Nationalism (London: HarperCollins, 1994).

[9]          Ruth Wodak, Rudolf de Cillia, Martin Reisigl, & Karin Liebhart, The Discursive Construction of National Identity, Translated by Angelika Hirsch & Richard Mitten (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd, 1999), 28.

[10] Cathie Lloyd, Thinking about the Local and the Global in the Algerian Context, Oxford Development Studies, 30, 2, (2002), 161.

[11]  Lahouari Addi, Nationality and Algerian Immigrants in France, Chapter 11 of Alec. G. Hargreaves & Michael J. Heffernan (eds.) French and Algerian Identities from Colonial Times to the Present: A Century of Interaction (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1993), 219.

[12]  Wodak et al. (1999), 4.

[13] Philip Schlesinger, Media, State, and Nation: Political Violence and Collective Identities (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1991). and Philip Schlesinger,  Wishful Thinking: Cultural Politics, Media, and Collective Identities in Europe, Journal of Communication, 43, 2, (1993), 6-17.

[14] Fernando Delgado, The Fusing of Sport and Politics: Media Constructions of U.S. Versus Iran at France ’98, Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 27, 3, (2003), 295.

[15] Richard Giulianotti & Gerry P.T. Finn, Old Visions, Old Issues: New Horizons, New Openings? Change, Continuity and Other Contradictions in World Football, Epilogue of Gerry P.T. Finn & Richard Giulianotti (eds.), Football Culture: Local Contests, Global Visions (Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 2000), 256-282.

[16] Joseph Maguire, Global Sport: Identities, Societies, Civilizations (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 1999), 182.

[17] ibid.

[18] ibid.

[19] David Rowe, Sport and the Repudiation of the Global, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 38, 3, (2003), 285.

[20] Giulianotti & Finn (2000), 258.

[21] Nauright (2004).

[22] Maguire (1999).

[23] Nauright (2004), 1331.

[24] Susan McKay, Taking the Politics Out of Sport? Australian Press Coverage of South African-Australian Sport, 1992-1994, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 33, 3, (1998), 265.

[25] Delgado (2003), 304.

[26] Tim Crabbe, 'The Public Gets What The Public Wants:’ England Football Fans, ‘Truth’ Claims and Mediated Realities, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 38, 4, (2003), 423.

[27] Brett Hutchins & Murray G. Phillips, Selling Permissible Violence: The Commodification of Australian Rugby League 1970-1995, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 32, 2, (1997), 161-176

[28] Kirsten Frandsen, Globalisation and Localisation – TV Coverage of the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000, In Stig Hjarvard (ed.), Media in a Globalized Society (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2003), 159-185.

[29] Maguire (1999).

[30] Wodak et al. (1999), 8.

[31] “TV rights & opportunities,” Fédération Internationale de Football Association, (2006) [Available: WWW – http://www.fifa.com/en/marketing/newmedia/index/0,1347,1,00.html].

[32] Samia Lokmane, L’Algérie saisit la Fifa. Liberté, (2006, June 6) [Available: WWW – http://www.liberte-algerie.com].

[33] ibid.

[34] ibid.

[35] Nabila Afroun, Ould-Abbès promet des cartes ART aux étudiants et aux démunis, Liberté, (2006, June 8) [Available: WWW – http://www.liberte-algerie.com].

[36] Mustapha Benfodil, Le petit business des cartes “ART,” Liberté, (2006, June 8) [Available: WWW – http://www.liberte-algerie.com].

[37]  “Afflux considérable à Alger,” . Liberté, (2006 June 10) [Available: WWW – http://www.liberte-algerie.com].

[38]  Frédéric Potet, Zidane, Thuram, Barthez de retour en finale de la Coupe du monde, Le Monde, (2006, July 7) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[39]        Pascal Ceaux, Zinédine Zidane, ou comment ré́ussir ses adieux, Le Monde, (2006, July 7) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[40] Elie Barth, Le fabuleux retour des grognards, Le Monde, (2006, July 8) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[41]  ibid.

[42] Pierre Jaxel-Truer, Zidane une icône française, Le Monde, (2006, July 9) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[43] Eric Collier, Zidane La Touche Finale, Le Monde, (2006, July 9) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[44] ibid.

[45] Mustapha Kessous, Zidane, héros lointain et décevant de la Castellane, Le Monde, (2006, July 11) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[46] Bruno Caussé, Zidane, la légende ternie, Le Monde, (2006, July 11) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[47] Kessous (2006).

[48] Caussé (2006).

[49] ibid.

[50] Pierre Jaxel-Truer, Mais qu'a bien pu dire Materazzi à Zidane? Le Monde, (2006, July 12) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[51] Stéphane Mandard, Ziné́dine Zidane pré́sente des excuses mais se dit sans regrets, Le Monde, (2006, July 14) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[52] ibid.

[53]  “Pour Zidane, ‘Le vrai coupable’ est l’italien Materazzi,” Le Monde, (2006, July 14) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[54] Pierre Jaxel-Truer, Les Paradoxes de l’Affaire Zidane, Le Monde, (2006, July 14)[Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[55] Stéphane Mandard, Zidane et Materazzi convoqués par la FIFA, Le Monde, (2006, July 15) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[56] Philippe Marlière, Zinédine Zidane, la "malé́diction italienne," Le Monde, (2006, July 22) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[57] Tahar Hani, Finale de la coupe du monde 2006: sous le signe de Zidane, El Watan, (2006, July 9) [Available: WWW – http://www.elwatan.com].

[58] “Ils ont dit: Partenaires, adversaires, et admirateurs de Zidane ont parlé de lui pendant le Mondial 2006 de football,” El Watan, (2006, July 9) [Available: WWW – http://www.elwatan.com].

[59] “Bouteflika felicite Zinedine Zidane,” El Watan, (2006, July 11) [Available: WWW – http://www.elwatan.com].

[60]  ibid.

[61] Omar Kharoum, Après l’expulsion de Zidane lors de France-Italie: les raisons d’un geste, El Watan, (2006, July 11) [Available: WWW – http://www.elwatan.com].

[62] Camille Lacoste-Dujardiin, Dictionnaire de la culture berbère en Kabylie (Paris: Editions La Découverte, 2005).

[63] Azzedine Hammou, Zidane dévoile les propos racistes de Materazzi, El Watan, (2006, July 13) [Available: WWW – http://www.elwatan.com].

[64] ibid.

[65] ibid.

[66]  “Marco le Sicilien, un récidiviste,” El Watan, (2006, July 12) [Available: WWW – http://www.elwatan.com].

[67]  Nacéra Benali, L’homme fier et le fourbe, El Watan, (2006, July 12) [Available: WWW – http://www.elwatan.com].

[68] Mustapha Cherif, Zidane a gagné la paix intérieure! El Watan, (2006, July 19) [Available: WWW – http://www.elwatan.com].

[69] “Marco le Sicilien” (2006).

[70] Rémi Yacine, Zidane rentre dans la légende, El Watan, (2006, July 11) [Available: WWW – http://www.elwatan.com].

[71] Hutchins & Phillips (1997).

[72]  Miss France, façon Zidane – Google Video [Available: WWW – http://video.google.fr/videoplay?docid=6080528571674016618&q=zidane].

[73] Zidane Owns Fidel Castro [Available: WWW – http://zidaneownsfidelcastro.ytmnd.com/].

[74]  “ ’Coup de Boule,’ écrite en une demi-heure, en passé d’être le tube de l’été,” Agence France Presse, (2006, July 27) [Available: Lexis-Nexis].

[75] ibid.

[76] Sébastien Lipszyc, Emmanuel Lipszyc, & Franck Lascombes, Coup de Boule, [Windows Media file] Paris: LaPlage Records (2006) [Available: WWW – http://www.coupdeboule.net].

[77] “Le Zouk,” Radio France Outre-Mer, (2005, March 18) [Available: WWW- http://musiques.rfo.fr/article34.html].

[78]  “Le Coup de Boule en tête,” Le Soir, (2006, August 3)  [Available: WWW – http://www.lesoir.be/culture/musiques/2006/08/03/article_le_coup_de_boule_en_tete.shtml].

[79] cf. Joseph Straubhaar, Multiple Television Flows for Multi-Layered Cultural Identities? (2006) Paper presented to the annual conference of the Global Fusion Consortium. Chicago IL. and David Winterstein, Language and Media in the Promotion of the Breton Cultural Identity in the European Union. doctoral dissertation. (Seattle, WA: University of Washington, 2001


David Winterstein Bio

(PhD, Communication – 2001 – University of Washington). I am currently a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at Ohio University. I teach classes in mass communication with a particular emphasis on global flows of information. Past courses have covered communication in international relations, comparative media systems, and theories of international communication. My present research seeks to understand international information flows by examining the relationship between media use and local identity negotiation in the global context. Within this area, I am most interested in the ways marginalized groups participate in the media in order to protect, promote, and maintain their unique identities. The power relationships involved in media flows at global, national, and local levels all have important influences on the abilities of marginalized groups to express themselves, to maintain their own perspective on events taking place in the world, and thus to situate themselves in that world. It is through exploring these power relationships that I seek to understand the ways local groups understand and navigate the processes of globalization.


Editor's Note
Bob Walter


The Other Algeria: Zidane, World Cup Soccer, Globalization, and the Media
David Winterstein

The Paradox of Gender and Sport Development: The Case of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan
David Bogopa




Home - Impumelelo Issues - Submissions - Editorial Board - Resource Center - Contact us - News - Confederations - Conferences
© Designed and Maintained by Gerard A. Akindes