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When jokes aren’t funny: banter and abuse in the everyday work environments of professional football

Hickey, Colm; Roderick, Martin


Colm Hickey


As with most professional institutions, English Premier League football clubs offer insightful, unique opportunities to more fully comprehend the cultural significance of banter and abuse within workplace environments. This article offers a new, critical perspective that provides a better understanding of the distinctive, intricate social discourses surrounding banter in the daily lives of professional footballers by answering the research question: What is the cultural significance of banter within the competitive work environments of English Premier League players? Research method Data were collected from 10 male participants (aged 18–30) by means of qualitative semi-structured vignette interviews. Each participant was interviewed on three separate occasions (30 interviews). Results and findings The data and subsequent analysis illustrate how banter is an accepted and legitimised discourse within professional football, but promotes considerable anxiety, stress and unhappiness in work environments. Implication This study provides an original insight into the attitudes professional football players hold towards banter. Contributing to the existing research that has examined forms of abuse within sport, this article aims to better inform the management and development of athlete well-being and player care.


Hickey, C., & Roderick, M. (in press). When jokes aren’t funny: banter and abuse in the everyday work environments of professional football. European Sport Management Quarterly,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 7, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 20, 2022
Deposit Date Nov 14, 2022
Journal European Sport Management Quarterly
Print ISSN 1618-4742
Electronic ISSN 1746-031X
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed