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The Denationalization of Sport: De-ethnicization of the Nation and Identity Deterritorialization
Sport in Society
This essay presents the effects on sport of recent developments such as the acceleration of migratory flows and the increasing influence of mass media on a global scale. It examines two different sets of processes occurring in sport today that can be conceptualized as examples of denationalization. The first one, defined as the progressive disconnection between the geographical origin of sportsmen  and the nation-states that they are supposed to represent, leads to a de-ethnicization of the nation. The second one, defined as the decrease in importance of the 'origin label' in the identification process between fans, sportsmen and teams, leads to an identity deterritorialization. Both of these processes show that the state-national reading grid, defined as the preservation and reproduction of the correspondence between a state, a territory and an identity through the organization and interpretation of sports events according to the sportsmen's nationality, is essentially an historical construction. From this perspective, it is emphasized that contemporary changes regarding the concept of the nation-state and national identities in sport are inscribed in a nonlinear historical process, which previously had the tendency to ethnicize nations and to territorialize identities, and nowadays tends to de-ethnicize the first and deterritorialize the second.
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