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French Football Needs More Women Like Adriana? Examining the Media Coverage of France’s Women’s National Football Team for the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Olympic Games

As reflected by the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, global women’s participation in sports seems to currently be at its highest levels ever. However, equality between men and women has not yet been reached when one examines how men and women involved in sports are represented in the media. Sportswomen have appeared to be typically portrayed as feminine individuals and not systematically referred to as ‘just athletes’. France’s women’s national football (soccer) team was followed during the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Olympic Games through two different French websites: the official website of the French football federation and a website devoted to sports news. Using a feminist Foucauldian discourse analysis, this paper presents how these important websites for the media coverage of football in France portrayed the women’s national team and its players during two major international competitions, oscillating between gendered individuals and ‘real’ or legitimate athletes. It also highlights how cultural context and nationalism contributed to such (re)presentations of Team France.