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Sojourner Perceptions of the St George Cross Flag During the FIFA 2010 World Cup: A Symbol of Carnival or Menace?

Researchers have observed that during a major sporting event, participating nations are transformed into sites of carnival and patriotic celebration. National flags are important symbols, increasingly used to denote support for the national team and to express group identity. Using findings from a qualitative study of sojourner perceptions of a transformed England during the FIFA World Cup 2010, this paper explores how the display of the England national flag (St George Cross) is decoded by national outsiders to the culture. Two conflicting themes emerged from an inductive thematic analysis of data. The England flag is perceived as both a positive symbol of national pride and a signifier of potential violence.