Is it a Beautiful Game? How Media is Changing the Face – and Future – of Football
The latest exhibition at The Media Majlis explores the relationship between football and the media
Football is undoubtedly the world’s most popular sport. But do we ever stop to think about how it was portrayed by the media – in magazines and newspapers, on television, on the radio, online and even through social media?
With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ around the corner, the world is beginning to descend on Qatar – physically, virtually and metaphorically. The Media Majlis, a media, communication and journalism museum located at Northwestern University in Qatar, has curated an exhibition that asks the question: is it a beautiful game?
The Media Majlis explores the deep and intertwined relationship between football and media with an exhibition that challenges audiences to question how these two mega-industries influence opinions and views.
Is it a beautiful game?
The exhibition, Is it a beautiful game? is curated by associate curator and manager of exhibition planning, Jack Thomas Taylor who said they want the audience to feel empowered to ask critical questions.
Football and the media are two multi-billion-dollar industries with a complex relationship that continues to grow, shape and morph across time, technology and cultures. We believe everyone has the right to know how football, media and the game intertwine.
As Qatar prepares to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – the first time the tournament is taking place in the Arab world – this exhibition invites everyone, especially students, media professionals and football fans, to learn more about the dynamics of the sport and its culture.
Taylor said that since Qatar was announced as the host for the upcoming tournament, there has been much questioning concerning the country and the region’s, sporting heritage.
You often hear statements that it doesn’t exist, but that’s simply not true. Over the last century, Qatar has evolved into a global player.
Northwestern Qatar is educating, mentoring, training and preparing the next generation of journalists and media professionals. They are just a few kilometres away from one of the stadiums and even closer to the hub that will mediate the tournament to the world. If any institution should dig deeper into this subject, it should be them, he said.
Everything we do is student-first, according to Taylor. Whether students work to develop ideas, research narratives, help produce content, evaluate audience responses to exhibitions, or even explore the subject and themes during a faculty-led class, all their exhibitions provide educational opportunities.
We hope faculty – from within Qatar and beyond – use the museum space as their classroom for informal learning and debate.
Football jerseys worn by Mohamed Salah and Diego Maradona provoke audiences to consider the spectrum of hero and villain. In contrast, a photograph of Arab entertainment icons Farid Al-Atrache, Layla Fawzi, Houda Sultan, Salah Zoulfikar, Madiha Yusri, Farid Chawki, Omar Sherif, and Mariam Fakhreddine attending a football match in the late 1950s reminds visitors that the Arab world does have football heritage.
These objects are complemented by various museum-made films, including Where do you stand? – a production that includes graduates from universities within Qatar, including Northwestern Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa University and Northumbria University. Participants discuss their perspectives on discrimination and hate speech, footballers’ actions off the pitch, and the tension that media headlines can create.
It’s so important to continuously engage with the community and provide opportunities for collaboration, says Taylor. For this exhibition, they invited alumni from various universities within Qatar to share their perspectives on the social politics of football and fan culture.
He said that they have a duty to include the diverse voices that make our communities unique in the exhibitions and lend a platform to showcase (that) there is always another side.
Even when our students graduate, they are still a part of the fabric of the university and are always welcome back.
Is it a beautiful game? is open Saturday to Wednesday, 10 am to 5 pm, until 12 November. The exhibition is also accompanied by several public programmes and a film screening. The edited edition of Voices and Conversations, a full-colour publication on the sound of sports, is on sale in English and Arabic.
For more information, visit mediamajlis.northwestern.edu.
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