The experience of defeat: applying Goffman to examine a football tournament for socially excluded homeless individuals

Fernando Segura M Trejo, Michaël Attali, Jonathan Magee

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The use of football programs as a vehicle for social change has increased exponentially in recent decades. This article utilizes Goffman’s sociology as a framework to approach the Homeless World Cup (HWC). Firstly, we examine how the participants interviewed refer to their journeys and how, throughout the HWC’s preparation, they were able to positively reconfigure their self-presentation. Secondly, we consider the frame of repeated defeats for participants whose expectations of success within this tournament were not fulfilled, reinforcing previously held feelings of stigma. Thirdly, the symbolic distance between winning and losing teams is discussed. Finally, we propose some reflections about the tournament’s format in order to remove, or at least reduce, negative experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-630
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • defeat
  • football
  • Goffman
  • homelessness
  • self-presentation
  • stigma

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