Sahar D. Sattarzadeh is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, where she studies obstacles and pathways to equality, equity and justice, particularly relating to: sociologies of knowledge and education; science, technology and society; and activism. She has a Ph.D. in international education policy from the University of Maryland, College Park in the United States. An avid footballer, Sahar participated in the U.S. Olympic Development Programme (ODP) and played NCAA Division I football/’soccer’ in California as an undergraduate. There is no doubt that she is a lover of the ‘beautiful game’.
The Colour of Football is Poor Male: (Dis)entangling Racialisation, Classism and Gendering of the ‘Beautiful Game’
Initially inspired by a personal journey through the world of football as both a formal and informal player and spectator in the United States, this evolving comparative study addresses the links between institutionalised and sociocultural football structures and systems that characterise entangled dynamics of racism, classism and patriarchy. Although broad global comparative cases will be explored, this presentation highlights the African context, particularly Southern Africa. Through a critical analysis framed by (and interrogating) integrated (de)colonial discourses (critical football studies, political economy, critical race theory, feminist theory, ‘Global South’ theory), this study adopts a mixed methods approach relying on findings from participant observation, critical discourse and media analyses, as well as interviews with players and spectators of the ‘beautiful game’. Bringing to mind the surface-level assumptions and beliefs that football on the African continent (as well as other parts of the ‘Global South’ and ‘Southern’ and ‘Eastern’ Hemispheres) is a sport limited to poor, black or brown males, this study highlights how institutions, communities and societies are both perpetuating and challenging these same divisive, oppressive norms and standards. Due to initial motivations underlying this research inquiry, the researcher’s own positionality on and interpretations of her ‘relationship’ to football, her ethnic/racial identity, and gender are also deconstructed throughout this inquiry.