Media Majlis explores football and the media

July 31, 2022
The Media Majlis at Northwestern University in Qatar's newest exhibition explores the social and political effects of football and its interrelationship with the media in an interactive exhibition, Is it a beautiful game?.
“Football matches, leagues, cups results are all defining parts of today’s mainstream football media coverage, but little is discussed about corruption, star players misbehaving, clubs facing bankruptcy, or television companies battling over broadcast rights,” said Pamela Erskine-Loftus, director of the Media Majlis. “Is it a beautiful game? looks at the football fan culture, fanaticism, political influence, racism, and other less discussed aspects of the modern-day football industry to examine if football is truly ‘the beautiful game’ that it has been called.”
Through a series of eight interactive installations, the exhibition enables the visiting public as well as faculty and student researchers from Northwestern Qatar and across Education City to look at the various themes influencing the sport’s growing popularity across three main elements: the fan, the professional player, and the media.
“In today’s polarized political and social sphere, football has emerged as the most popular and beloved sport in the world, and media coverage of the game has reinforced and globalized its human sentiment,” said Marwan M. Kraidy, dean and CEO of Northwestern Qatar. “Not only does this exhibition look at the feelings football triggers and the images it elicits, but also past its passionate glamour to examine how it combines cheering and belonging with jeering and bigotry at the same time.”
Visitors learn the different ways media and football interact and the wider powers these industries have in and beyond the football pitch. By engaging in a series of interactive conversations on women's representation in football and research from Northwestern Qatar Professor Susan Dun and other researchers in the field, discriminatory behavior, and other critical topics, visitors explore how football and media work together to shape the public's perception of various social issues.
Where do you stand?, a film-based interactive installation, features a recorded experiment displayed on a big screen through which graduates from Northwestern Qatar and other Qatar universities share their opinions on issues in the sport based on their frames of reference, unpacking how the inextricable relationship between media and football continues to grow, shape and morph across time, technology, and cultures. Visitors attending the exhibition engage with the experiment to examine the impact of values and belief systems on guiding individuals’ thinking and influencing stances on popular issues in football.
Spanning the main exhibition space is Codifying the Game, an interactive visual installation focusing on the role of data in football. The installation depicts a real-life football game using anonymous data and statistics monitored from the game to help visitors understand how data help provide the narrative, the drama, and the conversation in modern-day football.
The role professional football players play off the pitch is also explored. From the Mo Salah Effect that contributed to reducing Islamophobic attitudes in the U.K. to Marcus Rashford’s campaign for children's school meals during the pandemic, visitors learn how football enables players to make a positive influence on public opinion and discussions on political and social issues beyond the football pitch.
The exhibition is also accompanied by a special edition of the museum’s edited publication, Voices and Conversations, exploring the role of sound in football. Featuring a series of essays and interviews on the relationship between sound and football, this edition, The Sound of Sport, examines the impact of sound on the football experience from the perspectives of professional players, sound engineers, journalists, and psychologists.
The Media Majlis will also host several public programs with experts on the sidelines of the exhibition, including discussions on environmental sustainability in sports, the growth of eSports, inequality and discrimination in sports, as well as a special screening of The Worker’s Cup, a film on the lives of the migrant workers building the World Cup infrastructure.
The Media Majlis is open Saturday to Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The current exhibition will run from August 3rd till November 12th, 2022.
To learn more about the museum and its programs, please visit the Media Majlis website.