Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Health and Sport Studies

First Advisor

Susan Birrell

Abstract

“The Future of Football is Feminine”: A Critical Cultural History of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team,focuses on the historical and cultural construction of the U.S. women’s national soccer team. The public and academic discourse that constitutes women’s soccer in the U.S. consistently links the game with the feminist legislation of Title IX, and positions male coaches as benevolent patriarchs who grant young girls and women the right to play. The combination of these two dominant narratives confronts the historical narrative of women’s soccer from an uncritical and celebratory space, which represses and decenters lines of power. I challenge these steadfast discourses by locating this team, and thus, women’s soccer, in the larger cultural frame of neoliberal, postfeminist, post-racial, and sexual politics. Through an examination of U.S. newspapers and magazines, United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) documents, and extensive soccer-specific journals and magazines, I explore the intersection of capitalism, feminism, and racism in women’s professional sport.

This research also examines how the media and other corporations have cultivated the U.S. women’s national team and its individual stars, such as Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly, Abby Wambach, and Hope Solo to promote themselves as consumer conduits through which moral and ethical behaviors circulate and influence civil society. Since the mid-1990s, young female soccer players find themselves at an ideological crossroad of individual choice and self-discipline. The soccer field has been promoted as a space of gender and racial inclusion as well as economic and political freedom while subtly reinforcing the exact opposite. Moreover, I examine the historical and ever-shifting landscape of women’s soccer, and how neoliberalism as an economic and cultural theory is central to the use of race, class, gender, and sexual ideologies to develop women’s soccer in the United States.

Keywords

National Team, Neoliberalism, Postfeminism, Post-racism, Soccer, Women

Pages

xi, 333

Bibliography

268-333

Copyright

Copyright 2016 Eileen Marie Narcotta-Welp

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