From Bern to Rio: Soccer and National Identity Discourses in Germany


This article interprets German national identity discourses through the lens of soccer. Germany’s four World Cup championships came in a roughly 20-year rhythm and happened at critical moments and turning points in its post-World War II history. Looking at the four World Cup wins in 1954, 1974, 1990, and 2014 allows one to trace changes in German national identity that were reflected in the winning teams themselves as well as in the relationship of the celebrating public to the team and the country. International soccer events offer an opportunity to discern continuities and discontinuities in German national identity discourses. This article contributes to the literature by providing a comparative interpretation across six decades of soccer/national identity discourses. In such a comparative perspective, it becomes easier to see the changes and continuities that have characterized these discourses.

Publication Title

International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society