Degree Name

Master of Arts - Research


School of the Arts, English and Media


This thesis explores the relationship between sports media and politics in Bahrain in 2011 when Bahrainis gathered at the Pearl Roundabout to protest for greater freedom, equality, and an end to the Al-Khalifa regime during the wave of national protests in the region that is now known as The Arab Spring. It argues that sports media in particular was used as a propaganda tool by the Al-Khalifa family regime to suppress the protest. This thesis addresses two research questions: how did the pro-regime sports media frame the uprising in Bahrain and what strategies were used by the Al-Khalifa regime to politicize the sports media? A quantitative and qualitative content analysis was conducted of the sports media coverage in two sports newspapers and two television sports programmes in the period between March and May 2011 when demonstrations spread across Bahrain, sports activities were suspended and martial law was introduced following a general national strike. The content analysis identified three main frames that the pro-regime sports media employed to define the uprising: the characterization frame, the consequences frame, and the unpatriotic frame. Also identified were three accompanying strategies that helped implement the frames: vilifying the demonstrations, glorifying the Al-Khalifa family, and a third double edged strategy undermining the protesters while simultaneously praising the supporters of the ruling family. These strategies were supported by a number of techniques including the use of sources, the use of images of the protests, and the use of visual and audio content. This thesis concludes that the sports media was used as a propaganda tool by the Al- Khalifa family regime in Bahrain to suppress the 2011 uprising, to name and shame the protesters, and to preserve the status quo.