1st Edition

Why Fans Matter? Fans and Identities in the Soccer World

Edited By Kausik Bandyopadhyay Copyright 2025
    384 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the meanings, significances, and impacts of the complex identities that soccer fans, especially those of men's soccer, represent worldwide. The chapters in this volume construct and reconstruct fandom in terms of diverse fan affiliations from local to global level, and from national to transnational spaces.

    Soccer or (association) football is a game where fans come alive with one goal. It is soccer’s fanbase that has made it the most popular mass spectator sport in the world. Since the sport’s growth and its codification in the late nineteenth century, soccer and its followers became markers of varied identities. This volume is an attempt to understand the soccer fan’s tryst with such identities, mostly at the level of professional men’s football in different parts of the world. Fans create, represent, break, recreate, transcend, complicate and confuse diverse identities in their attachments with and loyalties to particular clubs, nations, continents, spaces, communities, races, ethnicities, and players. These identities are given shape through the display and observance of diverse forms of fandom and fan subcultures. Against this wider backdrop, the book brings out the commonalities, conflicts and tensions within these fan identities.

    Why Fans Matter? Fans and Identities in the Soccer World will be a fascinating read for anybody with an interest in sport and its intersection with disciplines such as sociology, political science, history, media studies, or cultural studies.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Soccer & Society.

    Introduction: perspectives on fans and identities in soccer

    Kausik Bandyopadhyay


    Part I: Whose Fan You Are? National, Local and Club Identities


    1. Race and whiteness in football talk amongst English fans: audience receptions of televised national team coverage

    Jacco van Sterkenburg and Max Walder


    2. ‘Liverpool daft’: the growth of British football clubs’ supporters’ clubs in the late twentieth century in Ireland - a history

    Conor Curran


    3. The end of terraces? Fans’ identity in times of crisis in Poland

    Radosław Kossakowski


    4. Why win a World Cup? Thirty-six years of football and nation(alisms) in Argentina

    Pablo Alabarces, Juan Branz and José Garriga Zucal


    5. Multiple football codes and their spectators, fans and supporters in Australia

    Roy Hay


    6. Club, nation, player: conflicted fan identities in African soccer

    Wycliffe W. Simiyu Njororai


    7. Becoming a Chinese football fan: an examination of the influence of national and local identities on the development of Chinese football fandom

    Kaixiao Jiang and Alan Bairner


    Part II: Expressing Fandom: Players and Fans

    8. ‘Could have been a god but chose to be a Devil’. The 2004 European Championships and Wayne Rooney’s departure from Everton Football Club

    David Kennedy and Peter Kennedy


    9. Does anyone care where they are from? The importance of locally trained players in English football

    Steve Bullough, Lee Edmondson and Andrew Mills


    10. ‘You, me, we’: shared identities of African professional footballers’ diaspora in Thailand

    Chuenchanok Siriwat


    11. ‘Weeping at Vasermil’: players, fans and tears

    Amir Ben-Porat


    12. The role of soccer and identity in Egyptian society: fans and players

    Mariam M. Hassan


    Part III: The Critical Fan: Social and Political Identities

    13. Symbolic identities in football: a view from political science

    Christos Kassimeris


    14. Taking sides in conflict and the question of antisemitism in Scottish football

    Joseph. M. Bradley


    15. ‘Brigate Verde…a terrible beauty is born': an exploratory examination of the social leadership of the Green Brigade

    Andrew Burnett


    16. Eurocentric globalization of football. Coloniality, consumption, social distinction and identities of transnational fans in Latin America

    Kevin Daniel Rozo


    17. East Bengal-Mohun Bagan football fans and Indian politics: parochialism and nationalism in simultaneity?

    Avipsu Halder


    18. Beyond ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fans: exploring the mechanisms enabling football fans’ position as a stakeholder in the management of circulations

    Jan Andre Lee Ludvigsen


    Part IV: FIFA Men’s World Cup: The Ultimate Fan-Stage

    19. Africa united: exploring the fandoms around the African Men’s Qatar 2022 World Cup teams among fans in Harare, Zimbabwe

    Manase Kudzai Chiweshe


    20. Victory for Africa or the Arab world? Moroccan nationalism, Arab exceptionalism, pan-African solidarity and digital fandom during the 2022 FIFA World Cup

    Lyton Ncube, Chengeto Pauline Mkwendi and Amos Batisayi


    21. Nationalism or cosmopolitanism? How Chinese football fans viewed the Japanese team and Japanese fans during the 2022 Men’s World Cup

    Chun Wing Lee


    22. The quest for authenticity amid activism and sportswashing: a netnographical study of Chinese satellite fans during the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup

    Ryan Chen, Yiran Su and Adam S Beissel


    23. ‘Our team will definitely win the cup’: the Keralan support of Brazil and Argentina during Men’s World Cup 2022

    Ana Raquel Romeu Aguiar



    24. The football commentator and the social commentator: a conversation

    Jack Woodward and Kath Woodward


    Kausik Bandyopadhyay is Professor of History at West Bengal State University, Kolkata, India. Formerly a Fellow of the International Olympic Museum, Lausanne and the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata, he is also Deputy Executive Academic Editor of Soccer and Society (Routledge).