Fandom & Political identity.
Sport clubs and supporters’ groups as creators of political and transcultural identities.
Sports and Politics have a long continuous relationship through the modern history and reality. The ties between sport and political science is so solid, that we can speak of this phenomenon as a Sports Diplomacy. Since the ancient Greek era, sport has been seen as an instrument of diplomacy. The ancient Greeks founded the Olympic games competition originally to honor their gods and were held every four years, lasting up to three months. They called an “Olympic Truce” this period of time, when a military cease-fire among all the spectators and athletes is settled. During this period even death penalties were forbidden. The competition was also an opportunity to deal with inter-city hostilities in a peaceful way and to to ensure the host city state was not attacked and athletes and spectators could travel safely to the Games and peacefully return to their respective countries. These months were also a time for political congress or even forming alliances. The athletes were able to gain honor, political power and social status through their outstanding performance. That’s one of the earliest evidences of collide between sports and politics. As for the modern olympic games, a perfect example of that collide is the use of all the olympic symbolics, such as the “olympic fire” which was originally introduced and used by the Nazi “propaganda machine” in the 1936, XI summer olympic games.
As for nowadays, there are multitude examples of this collide. In the cultural field, a good example is the movie “The Third Half”. At first glance a romantic story, set during the bulgarian occupation during the Second world war, and the matches that the Skopje local team should play in the newly established Bulgarian football championship. On the other side there is more politics involved than romance or history. Of course the movie is purely artwork, not claiming documentary accuracy, but for the bulgarian public, it was seen as a deeply anti-bulgarian propaganda, financed by the macedonian gouvernement.
Research questions, sources and methodology
My main thesis is to check the hypothesis that football clubs and their fan groups act as political institutions creating different political moods.
The research was made with the use of different type of media: newspapers, online articles, visual materials (documentaries, online videos), including archival photographs and recent photos showing the choreography, slogans and symbols; interviews from different documentary movies and books are qouted; official club and fan websites and forums, interviews of selected by me supporters of various bulgarian and foreign football clubs.
I’ve tried to trace the link between the political active sport supporters and the clubs they are fans of, to track the alliance between sport clubs and their fans, to see how a supporter of one club, over time builds a political affiliation on the basis of his or her fandom. Such cases may be few but there are vivid examples of such relationship. I’ve choosed to examine some prominent european football clubs as an attempt for comparative analysis. As for example FC St. Pauli and Hansa Rostock in Germany, Livorno and Lazio in Italy and etc as typical left-right political confrontation or the scotish clubs Rangers and Celtic, where that confrontation passes through the prism of the religion. For an important added value in this work, in perspective with many other studies on this topic, I consider the part with the attempt for analysis of some popular bulgarian cases.
I will also look into different theories (psychological, sociological, etc..) or hypotheses for this phenomenon trying to see how the presence of the crowd, affects the fandom groups.
In order to support my thesis, I’ve choose to make some interviews with various supporters of some of the football club cases examined here, without testifying that this is an exhaustive representative sample. Originally I thought to make online available survey. But then the problem of known and unknown or anonymous fans, which can pretend only to be „real fans” could occur. Yet, I do not intend to parse these international or bulgarian cases, so then I decided to make interviews only with supporters I personally know, and am sure that wont lie or figure out in their answers. With this survey, I aimed at checking and verifying the thesis of the transcultural identity of the fans. There are interviews by people from different states. In some cases a respondent from one state is a fan of a club from another – a phenomenon that will be examined in the last chapter – „Fandom and Trancultural identities”. After the analysis of the football club cases, I’ve added a summary info-box of each of the examples. With this thesis I do not claim full comprehensiveness, it is not an encyclopedia or almanac of the popular cases of political activism among football clubs, but it is an attempt an analysis on this modern phenomenon to be made, with a hint of various hypotheses.
Explanatory frameworks & Psychological theories of fandom
Often, fans and supporters of one club are organised in different kind of small or big groups. These groups can be – official memberships of a football club for example, where the members usually enjoy certain privileges: free tickets for some matches, free parking lot at the stadium or other kind of discounts or in some cases thats the only way of getting a ticket (mostly in the cases of very-popular clubs like Arsenal) and unofficial – sport supporters can organize themselves on free basis: to establish various numbers of groups and fractions with the main aim to show the love and dedication to a club together. But why is so important for so many sport fans to be a part of official or unofficial organization? In order to answer that, some psychological theories should be considered.
Generally it had been conducted many studies on fans, supporters and their behavior, but rarely a distinction is made, between fan and supporter. This can cause problems in that it should be noticed that spectators may not necessarily be fans, and that’s a crucial thing. Sometimes different researchers or journalists use these terms interchangeably, which leads to further confusion. So a define between fan and spectator should be made in order to avoid any confusion.
Furthermore the reasons for team identification are important, because there are different grades of fandom or spectator-ship. Shank and Beasley, researchers in the field of Sports Marketing suggests that “sports involvement can be seen as revolving around the concept of perceived interest and the personal importance of sports to an individual” Other researchers like Jones suggests that “spectators will observe a sport and then forget about it, while fans will have more intensity and will devote parts of every day to the team or the sport itself.” Fanship has also been defined as “an affiliation in which a great deal of emotional significance and value are derived from group membership” Spinrad defines a fan as “the person who thinks, talks about and is oriented towards sports even when [the fan] is not actually observing, or reading, or listening to an account of a specific sports event”. Others suggests the need to differentiate between a fan and a spectator, claiming that the difference is a matter of degree of engrossment and passion or that fans represent an association that provides the individual with a great deal of emotional and value significance. Lastly, since it is derived from the word ‘fanatic’, a fan can be defined as an ardent devotee of sport, or as an individual possessed frequently by an excessive enthusiasm for sport. It should be outlined the differences between a fan and a spectator as well as the differences between highly and lowly identified fans. A sport fan are “individuals who are interested in and follow a sport, team, and/or athlete. Sport spectators … are those individuals who actively witness a sporting event in person or through some form of media (radio, television, etc.)”. We can see that there is a wide range of definitions. Anyway a distinguishment between these terms should be made.
According to Iva Kyurkchieva: „The sport as an important element of the popular culture is a topic of discuss in social studies… In the social sciences football is seen as an important tool for constructing identities and its associated with their dynamics in everyday culture.“
It is said that „In many researches on this topic is often examined the relationship between football, politics and society. From the perspective of anthropology, sports cultures can be interpreted through the language of fans and its ability to attach importance to social life, to define political struggles, to build communities and identities.”However It does not interest me so much the emergence of the ultras and supporters movements, but mainly their role in society, as already established as a factor and phenomena and seeing them as multiple cores generating political ideas.
Are the variety of supporters’ groups one monolite phenomenon scattered in many sides?
A common subculture? Pop-culture or „fashion” trend? For many people, all football fans are the same kind of people – radicals and fanatics, hooligans, vagabonds, wastrels, wretches and just another bottom of the society. This in fact is a very powerful stereotype. But if we made a deeper insight into the depths of the fandom phenomenon we will see, that infact its not a a monolithic phenomenon.
So is every football club supporter a hooligan or radical? I shall put the question in another way. All over in the big cities and even in the smaller ones often can be seen swastikas on the facades of many buildings. Does that mean that there is huge number of nazis, neo-nazis, far-right skinheads and fascists in nowadays societies? Acctually it is difficult to say just how big are these groups, mainly because the fractions in which they are united, are mostly informal, and nazi and fascist ideologies are illegal, however compared to the multitude, I would say there is a feeling of rather small isolated marginal groups. So is anyone who scratched swastikas a nacist? Rather not. In my opinion here we can speak of subculture trend phenomenon. Yes, whoever draws swastika on the facade, surely knows that that symbol is concidered to be the the symbol of the nazi-ideologie in Europe and not something else (like bhuddist, jewish, chinesse and etc. symbol). And surelly, the basic principles of that ideologies are know, as anti-semitism, homophobia, social revanchism, anti-communism and more. Usually along the swastikas, numbers lile „88” or „14/88” can be seen, as „88” stands for „Heil Hitler” in abbreviation – as the letter H is eighth in the alphabet, and “14” represents 14 words written by the famous white nationalist David Lane, „We must secure the existance of our people and a future for white children.“ Flags with swastika, as a protest? Hypothetically, we can say that most of the people who draw or wave swastikas are young people affected in their dignity as the state and their parents can not provide better future or life perspectives in their juvenile life. Also the feelings of oppression by the representatives of the ones holding the political power is an uniting link. They see and feel the universal uselessness and this can be their protest. But why exactly a fascist flag? This flag can be seen as peculiar symbol of national and personal honour, pride and dignity, as we should remember the revanchism feelings after the First world war and a nation who see that its own government leads the country to ruin, has the right to start fighting. So that leaflets, propaganda, swastikas, violence are all seen as forms and methods of struggle by these youths. The flag can be dissident symbol of that common struggle of this socially isolated group. On the other side it can be really just a subculture “fashion” symbol. People see other people waving nazi flags at the football matches, shown on the telly, or elsewhere, and they replicate it within their own sub-culture societies. What does that tell us? Why it’s happening? Vihra Barova, assistant professor at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences describes all the subculture groups and elements in her research work “The genesis of the subculture identity among football fans” However, in my opinion there are more explanations of why football can socialise and shape identity in other perspective than the subculture one.
Crowds, subcultures, communities
The formation, shaping and development of the personal identity and the personality of an individual stands also the concept and factor of the socialization phenomenon. Especially in the early ages. The first socialization core is the family one, at one side by sport games and on other side by taking and copying the parents preferences ( for example, a kid is fan of one football team, because his father, grandfather and so on are fans of this team). Another core is the friends core. Usually a newcomer to a group socialize within trying not to differ much with the others. (for example one can be not so interested in the football game, but because he or she is living in a place or neighbourhood where most of the people are from one team, he or she often feels a belonging to the same club). A third and very powerful socializing tool is the following and worship of famous sport role models (a child may want to become a footballer or to be a fan of a particular football club, because he or she is in awe of some famous sportsman). So all of these tools are first bond by the sport in general and are factor of socialization, and socialization means communities, emerging of communities found on the common collective fandom. In addition to it, individuals could become fans as a way to achieve group membership or be a part of a particullar collective unit (fan club). An essential feature of such collective behavior is the sense of belonging that arises with group identification. According to the american socilogists David A. Snow and Pamela E. Oliver “Collective identities are known for their ability to give individuals a sense of belonging to a group. One dominant purpose of collective identities is to define borders by differentiating between “us” and “them,” thereby creating both opponents and solidarities.” This “us”and “them” confrontation can be seen really clearly at the stadium, especially when a derby occurs. Then we can say that the fans of the team, the fan-crowd becomes a collective unit. In the very basic meaning crowd means a pile of many people or with a negative sense – a faceless multitude. So fandom can unite individuals and grant them with feelings of common solidarity and belongingness, as the sportn crowd already possesses commonalities (allegiances and loyalties to the team) even before becoming a collective unit.
According to the famous Uruguayan journalist and writer Eduardo Hughes Galeano, called also „global soccer’s pre-eminent man of letters“ sport crowd can consist of two different types of spectators at the stadiums: fans and fanatics. What is the difference between the two? Whit a really simple one-sentence answer it can be said: Well, it’s in the words. A fan likes something, a supporter ( or fanatic ) actively supports it:
“Once a week, the fan flees his house and goes to the stadium. Banners wave and the air resounds with noisemakers, firecrackers and drums, it rains streamers and confetti. The city disappears, its routine forgotten, all that exists is the temple. In this sacred place, the only religion without atheists puts its divinities on display. Although the fan can contemplate the miracle more comfortably on TV he prefers to make the pilgrimage to this spot where he can see his angels in the flesh doing battle with the demons of the day. Here the fan shakes his handkerchief, gulps his saliva, swallows his bile, eats his cap, whispers prayers and curses and suddenly breaks out in an ovation, leaping like a flea to hug the stranger at his side cheering the goal. While the pagan mass lasts, the fan is many. Along with thousands of other devotees he shares the certainty that we are the best, that all referees are crooked, that all the adversaries cheat. Rarely does the fen say: „My club plays today.“ Rather he says. „We play today.“ He knows it’s „player number twelve“ who stirs up the winds of fervor that propel the ball when she falls asleep, just as the other eleven players know that playing without their fans is like dancing without music. When the game is over, the fan, who has not moved from the stands, celebrates his victory: „What a goal we scored,“ ‘What a beating we gave them.“ Or he cries over his defeat: They swindled us again,“ ‘Thief of a referee.“ And then the sun goes down and so does the fan. Shadows fall over the emptying stadium. On the concrete terracing, a few fleeting bonfires burn, while the lights and voices fade. The stadium is left alone and the fan, too returns to his solitude: to the I who had been we. The fan goes off, the crowd breaks up and melts away, and Sunday becomes as melancholy as Ash Wednesday after the death of carnival.”
What do Supporters do differently? Passion. Dedication. Loyalty. In his article: „Fan Vs Supporter” Marius Menzel, journalist and a fan of Bayern Munich says:
“Take a club like Bayern Munich for example. We have by far the most fans in Germany, but only a small group of true Supporters. The fans buy lots of merchandise and visit the home matches, and usually refer to the team, not the club. The fan idolizes players, but often knows little about the club’s history. When a club doesn’t do well, more and more seats will be empty, whereas the section of the Supporters is as full as ever. The Mindest. A Supporter loves the club, not the team and its players.”
“The fanatic is a fan in a madhouse. His mania for denying all evidence finally upended whatever once passed for his mind, and the remains of the shipwreck spin about aimlessly in waters whipped by a fury that gives no quarter. The fanatic shows up at the stadium wrapped in the team flag, his face painted the colors of their beloved shirts, prickling with strident and aggressive paraphernalia, and on the way he makes a lot of noise and a lot of fuss. He never comes alone. In the midst of the rowdy crowd, dangerous centipede, this cowed man will cow others, this frightening man becomes frightening. Omnipotence on Sunday exorcises the obedient life he leads the rest of the week: the bed with no desire, the job with no calling or no job at all. Liberated for a day, the fanatic has much to avenge. In an epileptic fit he watches the game but doesn’t see it. His arena is the stands. They are his battleground. The mere presence of a fan of the other side constitutes an inexcusable provocation. Good isn’t violent by nature, but Evil leaves it no choice. The enemy, always in the wrong, deserves a good thrashing. The fanatic cannot let his mind wander because the enemy is everywhere, even in that quiet spectator who at any moment might offer the opinion that the rival team is playing fair; then he’ll get what he deserves.”
So, to a Supporter, it’s all about the club, not the team.
If for a fan, going to a match of his favourite team is sometnig like a weekend hobby or casual entertainment, the supporters take it much more seriously. Just singing or shouting is not enough and no matter where or when the club plays, or how important the match is, the Supporter is usually there and sometimes this means sacrificing other aspects of his life – work, school, family, friends. To the supporter that’s matter of loyalty, dignity and honour. In other words, the club’s name has to be “defended” if necessary. To the Supporter the club is a way of living – a lifestyle.
The Supporter supports the team throughout the entire match, regardless of the score or the performance. The songs, choreography and etc. are done with all of the energy and passion. Even if the football players on the field are “weak” and don’t play well or play with passion, the active supporter is at the stadium and everything there is done for the club’s honour. Everything done by the club is from special interest fot the supporters.
Behaviour of the “crowds“ is only one hypothesis and aspect of the fandom communities. Without digging deeper in this aspect, we can mention the existence of various subculture groups such as Mods, Teddy boys, Beatniks, Rockers, Casuals, Skinheads (both right and left: Oi! SHARP…) and etc. which had an impact “inside the stadium”. However these subcultures, are more related to the music scene and the socio-political background of the youth, especially in the past, and especially in the UK. Referring to the principle of the socialization cores: working class neighbourhood would mean evolution of working class political perceptions, would mean listening to bands with such “ideology” lyrics (for example: SKA bands like “The Specials” with strong anti-racist lyrics, would became favourite to most of the young working class, moreover the band was formed in order to unite and integrate black and white youngsters through the music). Anyway these all are separate subculture groups whose link with the sport supporters groups exist, but is not so important and not resistant through the time.
Apart the „crowd” or community thinking is the ethnicity factor as in the follow example I am going to give.
Communities. Ethnicity as tool of football club affiliations.
The bosnian city of Mostar today again is an example in the aspect of politics-ethnicity-sports collide as for fans of football club Zhrinski Mostar are Croats and those of Velesh Mostar – Muslims (Boshniaks). Both teams, of course, are blood enemies and meetings between them never end without serious clashes between the factions of both teams.
In fact there is no need to a football game to occur – when large groups of supporters detect in the city, the consequences are clear. Also in the capital – Sarajevo the supporters of FC Zheleznichar are mainly Muslims and also can boast with countless battles with Serbian and Croatian supporters of the country, and even to those outside it. Actually even football teams, football hooliganism and football supporters in Bosnia and Herzegovina are divided on ethnic lines. The division is clear – it is well known which team of which ethnicity is and which supporters belongs to it. You can not be ethnic Croat from Mostar and support Velesh. Because Velesh are „the others”, they are on the other side of bridge. They are not „yours“, „ours“, „familiar ones“. In that case you just do not support them. It is true that
hooliganism exist everywhere. The special in the Bosnian case is the reason for it – not the football match itself, but the intercommunity differences. Policy and football in the country really are particularly relevant.
In the history of the football ethnic unrest in the country, there are several serious violent collision, as in Shiroki Brieg in 2009, when two football supporters fractions – Muslims and Croats are fighting, as unrest cover the entire city. Many cars are crushed, shop windows are smashed, shots are heard everywhere, there are numerous wounded and one killed. But fans accuse politicians of deliberately inducing events. There are plenty of arguments, they point out in their claims that local authorities wanted to come to such excesses in order to even greater escalation of ethnic tensions.
On the other hand, precisely in the field of soccer appears a light beam. The national team of Bosnia and Herzegovina which included players from the three communities, managed to qualified for participation in the World Football Championship in 2014. In general, such an event would not mean anything politically for any country, but in this case it led to a lot of events – public and political. After the last match played, which give the quota of the team for the World Cup, the streets of Sarajevo were filled with tens of thousands of revelers. All together, regardless of religion and communal belonging. Large part of the the country’s politicians immediately used the opportunity, and took positive positions. Dennis Bechirevich, Chairman of the Parliament of the country, said that the national football team has shown all of that success can be achieved – not only in football but also in any other field. Zlatko Lagumdzija, minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that the players in the team are the best possible example for all future generations. Their unity has helped them in difficult battles. The nationwide joy and fortune was considered controversial only in Republika Srpska – the society there logically supports the team of Serbia. Journalists from there, however, say though not with such enthusiasm, all in Banja Luka (the capital of Republika Srpska) are watching the game and have rejoiced the success. Emil Vlazhki, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic, said that the achievements of the players are something which the whole country must be proud. The general opinion still remains positive. At a time when not many things give joy to the bosnians, similar events, bearing happiness, in which the differences sink into oblivion, are valued by all.
This politicisation of the sport that we are witnessing is not simply politics invading sports, but actually politics replacing sport itself, as some matches and derbys are considered to be more like a „war battle” than just a sport competition. Sometimes very strict measures has to be taken to avoid clashes and confrontations. Often half the city is cordoned off by police forces. With the advancement and the progress, however, it becomes more and more difficult. For example a match between Serbia and Albania was cancelled after a flying drone with extremely-nationalist message broke the game.
Anyway, my focus is not on the inter-politics and inter-sport relations between nations, or supporters of national teams – there the politics already exist and precede the sports game. In these cases, the insertion of politics in sport is more clear and understandable. It is harder to be explained why some clubs act more like political core. To explain how the quasi-religious devotion of the supporters can make one club a quasi-party in the political sense, creating a peculiar commonwealth or I will use even the islamic term – „Ummah”, which In the context of Islam is used to mean, group that shares common believes, the diaspora or “Community of the Believers” (ummat al-mu’minin). Its quite often possible to be seen -fan items with the slogan “My club is my religion”. So, I found this word – “Ummah” quite suitable when talking about sport communities.
The Ultras phenomenon.
In this chapter I will try to give some examples of some renowned football clubs and their supporters’ communities, both bearers of political ideas. I will try to explain why this is happening and why it exist as a phenomenon. To defend that this sport-politics collide is not always valid everywhere and that there are (or should be) some critical and crucial historical and socio-cultural overlays for that to happen.
I’ve choose the most prominent clubs from different states and parts of the football world, which are good example of how political and transcultural identities are being created.
A significant part of this analysis are the so called Ultras movements. Basically the word “ultras” is a synonym for a fanatic, extreme supporter of a sport club .Nowadays it has become the most used word for a fanatic football supporter. Another synonym of “ultras” is the Italian “tifoso/tifosi”- Often the terms ultras or tifosi are often misinterpreted with hooligans. Ultras are a specific kind of sports fans famous of their super or „utra” fanatical support, expressed in a positive way with a lot of banners, insignia and singing and negative sometimes through violence or hateful chants and slogans. They are mainly continental European phenomenon (While nowadays England is famous with its calm and sitting stadium audience, with small exceptions like in my opinion – FC Crystal Palace). Ultras can be defined as organized and most dedicated groups of participants at matches and competitions. Ultra concept applies to hard-core supporters; for those whose priority is a sports club, who they support and everything associated with it. Therefore these groups, connect the act of cheering the team, as well as wide activities for the sports club and it can be said that they are creating a separate social environment. During matches, ultras manifest their attachment to the club by mostly chorally, melodic singing and spectacular choreography often enriched with pyrotechnic effects.
For years ultras groups across Europe have courted controversy and there are those who disagree with the hold that certain ultras group have over individual clubs, or the influence they exert inside stadiums. Then there’s the debate over the political allegiances of various groups and the assumption, in the mainstream press at least, that being an ultras is synonym of being a hooligan.
The very basic idea of ultra movement is based on a number of priorities. The first is possible attendance at all the sport competitions a sport team is on, both in matches at home and away. Often, there is for example a common vehicle – a car, van or a bus used by a group of ultras fans, used for trips inside or outside the country in order to support the favourite team wherever it might be.
Another priority of an ultras is a commitment to developing and coordinating choreography which utilize elements such as balloons, paper products (streamers, confetti, colourful cartons), transparencies, products made of fabrics as flags on sticks, banners, and etc. both oblong with text or symbols. Often choreographies are illuminated by pyrotechnics: flares, strobe lights, all kinds of fireworks and smoke bombs.
A big priority is also to support the club and the players, regardless of their performance. A must is of course, taking care of the image of the sports club, to respect the club colours and the use of flags, scarves and other sports fans insignia. Actions for charity are often organized, such as for some initiative connected to the club history or for example to health treatment of a fan. Very often there are strong anti-commercialization social tendencies. Most of the ultras and supporters do not approve changes to the names and emblems of club dictated by strategic sponsors, which often are seen as persons or companies with only one main aim – the profit, contrary of the “true love” to the team. In recent decades, the culture has become a focal point for the movement against the commercialization of sports and football in particular.
The term “ultras” is often misused and misunderstand as a synonym of “hooligan”, but unlike the hooligans, whose main aim is to fight hooligans of other clubs, the main focus of ultras is generally to support their own team.
As a modern phenomenon, ulras culture is often said to be a culture „Against modern football”? What does that mean? In his research work „Who Says “No to modern football”?: Italian Supporters, Reflexivity, and Neo-liberalism”, Dino Numerato explains that, this confrontation is connected with the expanding of the ideology and concepts of the neo-liberalism all over the World nowadays. Which results in the opinion of many, that everything is becomming a matter of business or profit (TV Ads, price of tickets and etc.). They confront the principle of „passion” against the „consumerist” one. They see themselves like deffenders of a true cause, and the other people at the stadium as „uncaring” and „tourists” (in my homeland – Bulgaria, the word used is: Semkari (bulg: Семкари) (Seedsman), because of the only action – eating sunflower seeds, some people who visit matches as a tourist attraction and have no idea of the history of the club – do apart of watching the game) Thats why often graffity, stadium slogans can be seen or boycots of matches occur. I will not delve more in the depths of these subculture phenomenon, but will mention that these actions and the Ultras movements in general are important. Important part of the social and public life.
Why the Ultras movements are so important? Because sometimes they play crucial role of some political events. Like mass-protests, revolutions and etc. For example the supporters’ clubs in Egypt became a major political force during the “arab spring” and the uprising against Mubarak in 2011. As in any other major uprising, clashes with the police occurred. It appeared that the Ultras groups consisted, albeit from different teams were “one of the most organized movements in Egypt after the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.” Acting as part of „Ultras Ummah”.
The same happened in the Ukraine revolution in 2014. Ultras groups played major role in the Maidan Revolution in the winter of 2014, when a lot of ultras, from different teams joined the protesters at the Independence square an in other regions of the country. “On December 12, 2013, ultras from Kyiv’s “Dynamo” displayed a banner, “We need a European spring,” during a match with the Austrian soccer team “Rapid” in Kyiv. In some cities, ultras protected local Maidans from titushki, paid government thugs, and prevented attacks by the police. In Kyiv, “Dynamo” ultras formed mobile night watch teams to patrol the city by cars to thwart potential attacks. On the Ukrainian ultras’ Vkontakte page, followed by thousands, the announcement read: “We are appealing to all who have not yet joined to defend Kyiv from hired thugs. Gather defence teams with cars for the night. You should coordinate with one another where you will meet, in case of emergencies and what escape routes you will use, if suddenly mobile communication and the Internet will be disconnected . . . Dress in such a way that will offer most security and safety. Each car should have a first aid kit. “
It can be vies-versa. In the Yugoslav wars, a lot of football hooligans and ultras were part of various paramilitary groups. Their feelings of nationalism, state pride and retribution was easily used by politicians and military leaders. Serbian journalist Zoran Cirjakovic as a coeval of the Milosevic fall from power after the NATO intervention in 1999-2000 writes:
„I realized that Milosevic was “finished” on October 5, as chanting protesters gathered in the early morning in Belgrade. I saw groups of football fans joining the crowd at the huge square in front of the Yugoslav parliament. Milosevic had deftly channelled the destructive energy and zeal of these “football hooligans” into paramilitary units for almost a decade. Now they finally turned against him. The most fervent fans were those who crashed police lines and turned the tide during the brief eruption of violence that saw both the parliament and state television burning.”
Nowadays, In Belgrade, Serbia the supporters and ultras of otherwise, enemies on the football ground teams – Partizan, Crvena Zvezda and Rad joined forces together to prevent implementing and holding of the local LGTB (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) parade.
These few examples show how powerful the supporters communities can be, defending or accumulating a political idea, ideal or action. Sometimes the bounds between a sport club and a fan club are so tights, that even the sport clubs themselves defined a political line or ideas that should be followed by their supporters. Here are some notable examples:
Germany: FC St. Pauli & Hansa Rostock
In Germany, the match between the teams of St. Pauli (Hamburg) and Hansa (Rostock) is known as the “Political derby” (Politischenderby). These teams, from two different cities and their supporters are good example of the two opposite sides of the political spectrum. The feud between this clubs is in fact contemporary, due to the separation of Germany after the Second world war in spheres of influence, therefore city of Hamburg stayed part of Federal Republic of Germany (so called West Germany) and Rostock a part of German Democratic Republic (East Germany). So before 1990, the year of the German reunification, the two clubs didn’t play in one league, only after that was possible for the both them to face each other on the green field, mainly in the second division (2. Bundesliga) of the german football league system. Joachim Lemke a respondent to the survey attached to my thesis confirms that: “Literally the only political derby is this between us and St. Pauli. And to me our club represents the normal every day people, while St. Pauli is the club of the minorities – of the homosexuals, the communists and others.”, saing also that a lot of other fans from the eastern part of the german country are supporting Hansa, and that he will do the same if another “eastern club” is at the top division of the Bundesliga. It seems that the political West-East division is still strong, after 25 years of the german Reunification.
St. Pauli supporters and the club itself has the fame of an alternative, anti-racist, anti-fascist anti-sexist and anti-homophobic eft-wing core. Which also means sporadic conflicts and clashes with neo-nazi groups, especially outside city of Hamburg, which has the same glory as place, probably obtained by the FC St. Pauli and its fans, as far from the noise remains the other big football club and sport community of FC Hamburger (Der Hamburger Sport-Verein or HSV). The sport club itself has adopted “fundamental principles” concerning the above mentioned political statements. What is interesting and remarkable about that team is that its supporters are politically active citizens involved in many demonstrations, protests and performances in and outside Hamburg and the district of St. Pauli. The club is also a centre and symbol of the alternative and punk music scene and related subcultures. The supporters of the club wear usually the “unofficial” logo which consists of an image of skull and crossbones, instead of the official FC St. Pauli’s emblem. The Skull & crossbones “pirate” logo is also used by famous international singers and artists, mainly from the punk scene. A popular slogan of the club and its supporters is „St. Pauli Fans gegen Rechts!“ („St. Pauli fans against the Right“)
Hansa Rostock supporters on the other hand are famous with their right-wing ideology. Far right nationalism is not something unusual in the former east german lands. Despite the fact that only round a fifth of the population lives in these regions, the former GDR states are host to almost half of the country’s racist acts of violence and right-wing extremist crimes in 2014. This fact of course hat it explanations. One of the hypothesis in that the far-right political tendencies are due to the lack of fast economical development. Despite reunification, the former GDR regions are still less developed economically than the western regions. Joachim Lemke a fan of Hansa, says:
„in reality it is not a club with a small and loyal fan base, it is more like the club of the people. We have stayed in the first Bundesliga for the longest time among all other Eastern clubs and naturally people support Hansa even if they are not exactly from here or a part of the classical fan base. In our case it is really interesting because we have the seventh largest number of fans in Germany, but there is also a small group of far right extremists. Officially the club has taken actions against such groups of people and some of them are actually banned from attending the matches. But I cannot deny that not only is this group of people probably larger than then 100-200 people as it is generally reported in the media but also there is this tendency that the people leaning towards the far right, even if they are not from Rostock or from MeckPomm, will also support Hansa.” and „ As for political ideas, I personally keep them out of my support for the club. I am political moderate, but I am perfectly aware that most right extremists lean towards Hansa. But of course there are some people who are members of both nationalistic political organizations and also of organizations supporting the club.”
On the question „Do you think that belonging to a fan community or just the love to a favourite team may directly or indirectly form political attitudes?“ he answers:
“Yes, definitely. I know some people, mostly younger than me, who mix their support for the club with their political beliefs. When we played St. Pauli in 2011, there were a lot of accidents between the fans. It is really sad that these things happen, but it is how it is. Actually if you look at St. Pauli, you will see that it is a lot more pronounced there. Their fans almost always lean towards the left and even the far left. With us it is a lot more mixed. But their fan base is a lot more loyal. They really are the club of the leftist people. Hansa is the club of the normal people and it just so happens that there are some extremists. You should know that in Germany being a fan of a football club is a more moderate activity than in other countries. It is not like it is in Italy, or in England or even in Spain. Here the biggest rivalry is between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke. It is not a political rivalry, but a local one. We don’t have anything like „El Classico“, or even like Real versus Atletico. In spain the two major clubs from Madrid represent two political regimes and also two different parts of the city, and two different social classes. Here when Bayern and Borussia meet it is all about which team is better this season and not about anything deeper. ”
We can see the complexity of the sport-politics collide. It is not just a sport, just a game. Below the surface there are many things. But nevertheless there is not always only hatred and loathing. During the 2009-2010 season, St. Pauli fans advocate the Hansa ones in that the the management of FC St. Pauli reduced the allocation of tickets from the usual round 2000 to just a 500. The decision to limit the away fans is a result of trouble the previous season that had seen violent clashes with the police. Despite Hansa Rostock being a bitter rivals, St. Pauli fans were outraged by the reduction of tickets for away fans. Ulras from St. Pauli wrote in their website „Rostock today, tomorrow us?”. This was seen as a ground breaking decision, an attack of supporters rights. The fact that this was an inside, an initiative by the club, was seen as shock for the multitude of the supporters.
That’s the list with FC St. Pauli’s “rules” or the Fundamental principles, adopted in 2009. I am copying all of them here, because I think they are very important and crucial political act. A political manifesto.:
1. “In its totality, consisting of members, staff, fans and honorary officers, St. Pauli FC is a part of the society by which it is surrounded and so is affected both directly and indirectly by social changes in the political, cultural and social spheres.
2. St. Pauli FC is conscious of the social responsibility this implies, and represents the interests of its members, staff, fans and honorary officers in matters not just restricted to the sphere of sport.
3. St. Pauli FC is the club of a particular city district, and it is to this that it owes its identity. This gives it a social and political responsibility in relation to the district and the people who live there.
4. St. Pauli FC aims to put across a certain feeling for life and symbolises sporting authenticity. This makes it possible for people to identify with the club independently of any sporting successes it may achieve. Essential features of the club that encourage this sense of identification are to be honoured, promoted and preserved.
5. Tolerance and respect in mutual human relations are important pillars of the St. Pauli philosophy.
6. Although St. Pauli FC consists of many different sections today, it has always been defined from its first beginnings, both internally and externally, by its commitment to football.
7. Together with the mandatory legal requirements that are binding for all, the stadium rules and Code of Behaviour for Excursions of the Fanladen are the basis for the activities of the members, staff, fans and honorary officers of St. Pauli FC.
8. Every individual and every group should constantly examine his or her present and future actions in a self-critical way, and be conscious of his or her responsibility for others. Adults should not forget that they are acting as a role model, to children and young people above all.
9. There are no ‘better’ or ‘worse’ fans. Anyone can give expression to his or her nature as a fan, as long as their behaviour does not conflict with the above stipulations.
10. St. Pauli FC will continue to be a hospitable institution. The club allows its guests extensive rights, but also expects them to show appropriate appreciation of the hospitality they receive.
11. The active fan scene (i.e. principally the club’s committed fans actually present on the day of the match) forms the foundation for the emotional impact of football as a sport, which in turn forms the basis for the successful marketing activities of St. Pauli FC.
12. Sponsors and business partners of FC St. Pauli and their products should be in harmony with club policy and the social responsibility of the club. More detailed specifications will be found in the club’s Marketing Guidelines (Vermarktungsrichtlinen).
13. In working with the responsible associations, St. Pauli FC will try to promote an early decision on the playing schedule and starting times that are convenient for fans.
14. The essential thing in sport is the playing of the teams, so this should be viewed as being centrally important. The atmosphere is determined by the interaction between fans and players. The accompanying programme should be distinguished by its objectivity and by the provision of information relating to the club and the city district.
15. The sale of goods and services at St. Pauli FC should be characterised, apart from economic considerations, by the fundamental principles of social compatibility, variety of services offered, sustainability and ecology. Means of payment coming into consideration must be compatible with the fans’ situation. In cases of lack of means, holders of season tickets and members have priority purchasing rights.”
Actually, district of St. Pauli has an interesting history. Through history it was always an outside part of Hamburg. Situated in the high ground on the north bank of river Elbe, the district remained relatively scarcely populated for hundreds of years situated outside the city walls of both the German Hamburg and the danish Altona. Typically the inhabitants were small craftsmen (rope makers, whale oil producers), peddlers and day-by-day labourers and all kind of businesses that were considered antisocial, due to pollution and noise. After the Great fire of up to 20 000 people moved to the district. The entertainment grow rapidly, because of the large numbers of sailors and dockers seeking resting places were to eat and drink, so St. Pauli and its Reeperbahn became a place for those seeking entertainment, drink or women. In the early 20c. The district become famous with its brothels and prostitution, but also with the large number of theaters and music halls. With the boom of the industrial revolution a lot of factory workers also moved there, seeking for cheap accomodation.So in practice there were conditions of growing social tensions. The influence of Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the free (socialist) trade movements was large in that area, so large that Hamburg became a stronghold of the german trade union movement. Jefferies states that by 1890 there were 84 active trade unions with 40 000 members in the city. Of course trade unions and social tensions in Imperial Germany means that strikes occurred from time to time. Socialist and communist (KPD, Spartacist Legue) movements gained more and more influence.
Without doubt it can be said that Hamburg and St. Pauli have a left-wing movements tradition. In the mid & late 80s left wing ideology fans appeared more and more on the Millerntor stadium. The dominant presence of far-right in the stadiums inspired a contra movement, an anti-racist movement.
In the 80’s away from the neonglare of “Reeperbahn” and “Grosse Freiheit” the St. Pauli district continued to be an area that reflected the social deprivation of the era. As a result of recession, inner cities across Europe had experienced an exodus of jobs and people to the more palatable surroundings of the suburbs. As a result, buildings were left empty and fell into disrepair. In an era before urban regeneration became both fashionable and profitable, this meant that working-class districts, already suffering from years of neglect, were left to rot. St. Pauli has long been a place where those living on – or forced to live on – the margins of society have sought refuge, with cheap rents and a tolerant outlook providing a welcome contrast to other parts of the city. The recession that gripped Germany in the 1980s was most keenly felt by its youth. School leavers struggled to find work. Unemployment meant young people couldn’t afford to leave home and get a place of their own. The large number of empty buildings in areas of Hamburg and West Berlin provided an opportunity for communities of squatters, looking to forge new ways of communal living. In Autumn of 1981, several neglected, council-owned houses that were destined for replacement with modern office blocks were first squatted. Over the next decade, these squats would become among the most famous in Germany, bringing together a diverse collective of punks, anarchists and disenfranchised youth.
The respondent Todor Bozhinov confirms: “Before going to Hamburg, I had inquired about local teams and with surprise I learned that St. Pauli is not just the brown team of „red light district“, but a favorite to the outsiders of one alternative, tolerant and vibrant part of town.”
The anarchist website ainfos.ca states that: “the cornerstone of these communities was communal living, and the creation of radical social centers: info-shops, bookstores, coffeehouses, meeting halls, art galleries, and other multi-use spaces where grassroots political, artistic and social culture were developed as an alternative to nuclear family live, TV dreams and mass-produced pop culture. These highly political, social communities took their lead from similar movements that had developed in Italy in the 1960’s were referred to as “Autonome“.
In St. Pauli, once again, a community of society’s “outsiders” was trying to establish an alternative way of living. Viewed in a historical context, the squatters on the Hafenstrasse were the latest in a long list of so-called “undesirables” to make the district of St. Pauli their home. As we shall see, the occupants of the squatted houses of Hafenstrasse play a defining role of transforming FC St. Pauli from an underachieving German club into a cult phenomenon.
By the end of the 80’s a new sort of supporters emerge at St. Pauli stadium and neighborhood. These new kind of supporters combined the typical alternative style of the area they are living in (punks, squatters, hippies) with left-wing ideology and politics, which inevitably becomes a symbol of the club. The first german anti-fascist, anti-establishment and anti-capitalist fanzine was found – the „ Millerntor Roar!”. Anti-racist campaigns were performed. The fans fight against the racism at the stadiums, turned later as a official rule of the team and the club. “In 1992 anti-fascist demonstrations in Hamburg were organised to follow immediately after St. Pauli home games.”
Here are some of the anti-facist, anti-racist and humanitarian projects the supporters of St. Pauli are involed in.
“Anti-fascist projects and activities, such as:
(a) Anti-fascist research and discussions around this activity (2006).
(b) Trip to Israel with a visit to Yad Vashem memorial site (2008).
(c) Discussion of the influence of right extremism on the Polish fan scene (2009).
(d) Congress in Lüneburg ‘Active against Nazis’ (2010).
(e) Memorial day ‘Remember for the Future’ to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz (2010).
(f) Party with the theme ‘let’ s go to the brown province in Leipzig’ (referring to the colour brown as that of the Nazi movement) (2011).”
“Anti-racist and pro-inclusionist activities and projects, such as:
(a) Anti-racist tournaments.
(b) The project KiezKick, which was founded in 2002 and engages in socially educative, ethnically and gender inclusive free training and fun activities, won the Integrationspreis (integration award) of the City of Hamburg (2006).
(c) In 2007, the Fanladen received the award ‘Ambassador of Tolerance’ awarded jointly by the Ministers of the Interior and of Justice.
(d) Discussion ‘in favor of diversity and opposition to all forms of discrimination’ (2011).
(e) Action day ‘ Why are you at St. Pauli ’ against racism and discrimination (22.3.2011).
(f) Many of the links on the Fanladen webpage to anti-racist organizations.”
(a) Humanitarian aid for forced labourers in Belarus (2007).
(b) Viva con Agua, a project promoting access to clean drinking water in developing counties. Leftist identification activities like the Fan’s solidarity party in Linker Laden, leftist shop (2011).”
In the time of writing this thesis an interesting event occured. In September 2015, at the very peak of the refugee crisis in Europe, a scandal between FC St. Pauli and the german tabloid „Bild” broke out. The famous newspapper, alongside the legue sponsor „Hermes” and the German football union, tried to use the crisis and started its campaign with the slogan: „Reffuges welcome – we help” – a messege which had to be worn by all the 36 clubs in the two higher divisions of the german football legue.Hermes, the major sponsor, waiving its advertising space on the shirt to accommodate the patches. On first side this sounds like quite normal and humanitarian initiative, although Bild is usualy famous for its right-wing positions and for many it was strange how the tabloid changed their stance from „against” to „welcome” the refugees. This new campaign was seen simply as marketing exercise for the newspapper, so St. Pauli wrote to the organisers of the campaign and politely decline, saying that they have their own programme of support, which is true: on most of the games, the host and the guest teams went to the grass ground with posters „Refugees welcome”. Even on a friendly game with Borussia Dortmund refugees were invited to watch and a lot of money was raised for their help. But in affect of St. Pauli decline, Bild’s chief editor Kai Diekmann tweeted:
In translation that means: “’No heart for refugees: Shame, actually @fcstpauli #refugeesnotwelcome St. Pauli is boycotting ‘We help’!” Then tings turn, and #BILDnotwelcome campaign outrage. Shortly afterwards FC Union Berlin, 1. FC Nürnberg, SC Freiburg, and VfL Bochum followed FC. St Pauli in their dispute with Bild.
Concerning the survey I’ve made for the last chapter “Fandom and Trancultural identities” some of the respondents are quite familiar with the political engagement of St. Pauli:
“Worldwide there are fans who are associated with political movements, such as those of St. Pauli are left-wing.” – Samul Petkanov, supporter of CSKA Sofia, or “Actually if you look at St. Pauli, you will see that it is a lot more pronounced there. Their fans almost always lean towards the left and even the far left…. They really are the club of the leftist people.” is the comment made by Joachim Lemke, supporter of the rival “Hansa Rostock”.
The analysis of St. Pauli supporters and initiatives may be longer than the following one, but in my opinion they are the most representative part of the thesis I want to defend, an I do not hide, that this club and its supporters are my personal inspiration to try to devote to such a topic. That’s why I chose to start this chapter with this particular club.
Scotland: The Old Firm.
The Scotish teams of Celtic and Rangers, known togerher as „The Old Firm” are interesting example of the politics-sports collide. With the annotation that here the politics pass through the prism of religion, which plays important role in the scotish society, especially in Glasgow, whrough the history. The Scottish Football League was founded in 1890, and with some exceptions it can be said that Celtic and Rangers are the only two of the original eleven teams that have avoided relegation from the highest division in the scotish legue. Today they are the two most famous scotish teams otside Scotland.
The football club of Celtic started as a Scotish-Irish community. It can be said that the club played a unifying role, a gathering core for the irish diaspora in Glasgow. In other words it had a political role, alongside the sports one. The club symbol is a shamrock, which alongside the harp are Irish and pan-gaelic (pan-celtic) symbols, the name Celtic itself is a symbol of ethnic affiliation, of an indentity. Acording to the academic Graham Walker „the politics of Celtic were associated with Irish Home Rule politics and revolutionaries” Often Irish national flags can be seen on Celtic home games in contrast with the „Union jacks” waved by Rangers.
FC Celtics rivalry – the other famous Glasgow club – FC Rangers are protestants as most of the scotish people. One of the club patrons of Rangers is John Ure Primsore – a scotish protestant unionist who expressed anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiments.
Like in the case with the bosnian city of Mostar, again here we have ethnic-religious differentiation. In most cases if you are catholic – you are supposed to be a Celtic fan, if you are protestant – you are supossed to be a Rangers one. More over Rangers for a long time didn’t have any catholic player or at least no one is known to be. It is said that Mo Johnson is the first exception. This was unaccaptable for both Celtic and Rangers supporters back then. Close to the Rangers community is also the Orange Order – a british protestant, conservative unionist organisation popular in Northern Ireland and Scotland. One of their last actions was the „No” campaign for Scotish independance in the 2014 referendum.
A celtic fan and user in famous scotish internet forum says: “Its football . Football fans slag each other all over the world and they say worse things about each other. But football is a mirror of society …you cant ignore the fact that there is a religious division in Scotland . And Rangers fans tend to be more right wing than Celtic fans .I don’t want to say that there is the danger of a sectarian civil war, god forbid, but there is discrimination against catholics. Nearly all people I know have experienced a form of discrimination against them ,reaching from simple insults on the street to physical attacks and murder threats. And this does not only affect those ten thousand football fans but the 800,000 catholics of this country . And there’s a simple explanation for the regional factor, first of all most catholics in Scotland live in west Scotland or the central belt, and in areas where there aren’t so many catholics ,the protestants don’t feel provoked by the catholic presence ,but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an anti-catholic attitude in such areas . Im not even a religious person and certainly there are more important factors than religion .But if you haven’t noticed ,Old Firm is very politic ,because it mirrors a certain atmosphere in Scotland . Rangers represent protestant bigotry at its best, Loyalism, and Anti-Labourism …Celtic represent Irish pride and catholic self-defense . And I beg you not to give in to your inherent anti working class attitude ,don’t see in football fans only grunting violent „animals“ .Football fans are part of society, too and , god knows, not its worst .”
Surprisingly Celtic and Rangers supporters have found a cause that unites them – the Scottish independence. Suprisingly, because the fans of Rangers are famous about their „Britishness” and are usually close to the already mentioned Orange Order movement, which held a „vote NO” campaign. Contrary to expectations, it turns out that a mojority of the „Old firm” were voting an “Yes vote” in the referendum. According to the poll by “Panelbase“ which looked at voting intentions among the support of Scotland’s football clubs – 48% of Celtic fans were going to vote Yes, compared with 40% which were planning to vote No, among the Rangers fans, support for independence was 45% to 41% likely to vote No. It is matter of the future British identity in Scotland, and it is matter of Rangers and its supporters, being active or passive factor for that.
That is one side of the coin, but the Old Firm can be the other side. Celtic – Rangers: separation of Catholics and protestants, of loyalists and republicans which stagnates in the principles of community and often due to lack of adequate channels of political messages they begin to thrive on mass events – most massive and weekly are the football matches. And it is normal, since the foundation of the clubs – they are organized on this principle – a common context in many verticals – including political. For example “Real Madrid” are “loyalists” because their history is such.
Their fans can be seen as elitists, in the past even fascists (Franco) and there’s a cultural anthropological explanations, the foundation of which is the very history and roots of the club. The spanish Rayo Vallecano are said to be anarchists, but no surprise – the neighbourhood from which they origin in such.
In most of the cases, most of the football fans are supporting the local neighborhood or city team, and a neighborhood or a city is by itself a a mini sub Society with its own political views, arising from the political situation. In the past Liverpool was a labourer town, so most of the Liverpool FC fans were “workers”. Most of the songs in England against Liverpool, are on how pathetic are Scouse (Liverpoolians). About their boring life, the lack of work and poverty and how Liverpool is a brothel – a typical class motive. On the other side, teams like Chelsea from neighborhood of Fulham, Stamford bridge can be seen as more elitist and conservative sub-society. This is a typical left-right division. Pro-elitist vs. anti-nomenclature.
Italy: AS Livorno and SS Lazio
Italy has turbolent political history, especially in the XX century. The rise of fascism, the comming to power of Mussolini, the two italian states during WWII and the abolishment of the constitutional monarchy are only part of it. After the war a strong socialist and left-wing movements emerged in the country. The „Red Brigades” (Brigate Rosse) are one of the most vivid examples of the italian left extremism.
As for the area of sport – the supporters of FC Livorno are well known for their left-wing political attitude. Not suprisingly there are often violent clashes with opposing right-wing supporter fractions, especially those of Roma, Lazio, Internazionale and Verona. And not only outside the stadium. One of the most famous FC Lazio players, the striker Paolo Di Canio is quite popular with his fascist salute to his own fans during a match against Livorno. Often hammer and strike’s symbols can be seen at Livorno’s stadium, and other communist or socialist insignia.
One interesting event is the friendly game between Livorno an the turkish Adana Demirspor in September 2009. The visit of Livorno in the city of Adana created a leftist rally Adana Demirspor are also popular in Turkey with their left-wing „railway working class” supporters. An important premis fot FC Livorno „leftism” may be the fact that the Italian Communist Party is acctually founded in the city of Livorno 21 January 1921.
S.S. Lazio is on the most famous italian football clubs. Often the supporters of the club are reffered as far-right wing or fascists. As I said above, Paolo Di Canio – one of the club most beloved and famous players is also famous with the roman salute’s he often during the matches of his team. “ I’m a fascist, not a racist”, says Paolo di Canio defending himself against a growing chorus of condemnation over his use of a straight-arm salute to a Right-wing crowd.“I give the straight arm salute because it is a salute from a ‘camerata’ to ‘camerati’,“ he said, carefully using the Italian words for members of Mussolini’s fascist movement.”, ”The salute is aimed at my people. With the straight arm I don’t want to incite violence and certainly not racial hatred,“
The club was founded in 1900 by army officers and the club logo, an eagle – the symbol of ancient Rome. The Italian Fascists, who came to power two decades later, used the eagle for the same reason – its connection with the grand old days of the Roman Empire. Il Duce, Benito Mussolini was also a dedicated Lazio supporter and could regularly be seen on their terraces. The Italian dictator built the Stadio Olimpico, where home matches still take place. At „Curva Nord” (the main Lazio supporters terrace ), often abusive monkey chants, racist banners and fascist memorabilia are observable. Once a banner that says “Auschwitz is your town; the ovens are your houses” was waved in a match against Roma. That’s a reference to Roma’s association with the neighbourhood of Testaccio, which has a Jewish population.
But one of the most problems for prooving the fascist character of a supporters group is the law. Encouraging fascism is a crime in Italy and not only there. Therefore that make most of the far-right supporters communities to avoid official placard of their political ideas and it’s not so easy too proove their affiliation. However there are some symbolisms that can often be seen on the stadiums or websites. Like the numbers “88” or “14/88”. Neo-Nazis use the number 88 as an abbreviation for the salute “Heil Hitler”. The letter H is eighth in the latin alphabet, whereby 88 becomes HH. As for “14” this number symbolizes the “Fourteen Words” phrase coined by David Lane, a prominent white nationalist. It most commonly refers to a 14-word slogan: „We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children. It can also refer to another 14-word slogan: „Because the beauty of the White Aryan woman must not perish from the earth.“ Some Nordic runes can also bee seen, which also represented nazi-symbolism.
Cyprus: Omonia Nicosia
Like Livorno, Omonia Nicosia fans are also known for their left-wing political attitude. In one survey, over 60% of Omonia supporters said that they associate themselves with the communist “Progressive Party of Working People”, and Omonia is also “traditionally regarded as the club of Cyprus’s working-class.“ Also, Many of Omonia’s supporters can be seen waving banners bearing Che Guevara’s image. As in the italian case, here also post-war history played crucial role. The Greek Civil War from 1946 to 1949 leaves its mark on the sport area. By that time the mostly greek inhabitated island of Cyprus was a British territory and thus to 1960 when it gain independence from the United Kingdom. Journalist Gary Bono in his article „Omonoia: Feisty team blends sports and left politics” claims „At that time, the authorities of Cypriot football tried to get all the professional athletes to sign a pledge denouncing the Greek left. Leftist players were directed to denounce their political beliefs and, specifically, the Greek communist party. Many players refused to sign. Those who refused to sign included players who, while not being explicit leftists, objected to such blatant politicization of sport, something that was supposed to be forbidden. Some of the players who refused to sign the 1948 pledge founded their own team, Omonoia.”
Israel: Beitar Jerusalem
The Israeli football team of Beitar Jerusalem is famous by the fact it never had an player, from arab origin. Yes, in the sense of ethno-religious relation, infact they had several players with muslim faith, but they were not arabs. This is a good example of far-right political atitude and xenophobic views. Anti-arab banners can often be seen in Beitar home stadium, but thats again no suprise if we have on mind the ever ongoing jewish-arab and israeli-palestinian conflict which is publicly well known.
It is important to be mentioned that one of the popular Beitar supporters fraction – “La Familia group” is also in clolse connections with the banned “Kach party” as the partys flag can be seen on the stadium. Kach party is a far-right political party in Israel, founded by the rabbi Meir Kahane in the 70’s, and following his Jewish zionist ultra-nationalist views. Slogans as“death to the Arabs“ and „Muhammad is a homosexual“ can be often heard.
With its strict „racial politics” Beitar are not isolated case. Athletic Bilbao from the Basque regions in Spain have a simmilar approach and rule.
Spain: FC Athletic Bilbao & Athletico Madrid & Rayo Vallecano
In the case of Spain, I shall examine the clubs of FC Athletic Bilbao, Athletic Madrid and Rayo Vallecano, which i found to be most relevant for the thesis.
The Spanish-Basque: FC Athletic Bilbao has almost the same experience with its rule of accepting only players from basque origin. The club has followed a strict unwritten rule of only accepting Basque players, since 1912. Recently the rule has become more flexible, because there are some exceptions of non-basque players in the team.
This is also a good example of political conservatism and ethnic politics inside a sports club. Of course, some people can say that that is a „cultural” or „tradition” thing and that every club can deside by itself who and who not will play for them, but still this restriction can violate indirectly some laws and rights.
Perhaps football club of Barcelona should be just mentioned also. Just mentioned, because of its allegiance with the tendencies of independence of the Catalan country in Spain, but here as also in the case of Athletic Bilbao, the case is more like the cases in Yougoslavia, described in the first and second chapter. It’s more a matter of ethnic politics, of politics coming from outside the stadium and the sports communities, but not emerging from there. The both teams are often sanctioned for booing the spanish national anthem, but nevertheless Barcelona does not have any official or unofficial rules of accepting only players from Catalan origin. The other difference is that they are too popular, rich and heterogeneus club to be a core for political affiliations and identities. Athletico Madrid, a club founded by three basque students as a sister club of Bilbao’s Athletico also has left-right division in its history. More or less between the Franco’s elite and the ones who oppose him.
As in the case of Cypres, also here the modern history of the spanish state played crutial role. The Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939 led to some fundamental changes. The civil war side were the spanish nationalists, monarchists, and pro-establishment groups, with the international help of fascist Italy, nazi Germany, autoritharian Portugal and etc. against the anti-establishment republican forces, anarchists, syndicalists, different minority groups (basques, catalans, etc.) with the international help of the Soviet Union and the International brigades, which were consist of people from all over Europe (and the rest of the World), which were part or close to the communist parties in their home countries. A war between far-right and far-left ideologies.
Athletico Madrid was found as „Atletico Aviacion” by members of the Spanish Air Force. Athletic Aviacion de Madrid was popular and on the taste of the new authoritarian government. They won the title in 1940 and 1941. But there was also anothe city rival – Real Madrid, which is also considered to be a pro-establishment club, clolse to the monarchy and the regime. From 1955 to 1960 the club won, five times the newly established „European cup” tournament, and soon became the new favourite of Franco as to him Real Madrid “symbolised of the virtues of centralism, the greatness of Spain, and the country’s vital position in the world.”
The “working-class” club:
Rayo Vallecano a small team, also from the capital Madrid, has the glory to be a representative to the spanish working class. „This is a club whose players take to the streets during general strikes, uniting with the proletariat.”
As in the case of St. Pauli here, we also can observe a srtong left-wing, and liberal identity. Here there are also anti-racist and anti-fascist banners and slogans. Flags of the Second Spanish Republic can also be seen at the stadium. “ At one end of their ground they boing up and down to chants of „whoever doesn’t bounce is a fascist!“ while the other end is not an end at all: just a wall. And there are stickers dotted round their training ground declaring: „love Rayo, hate racism“ Similarities with St. Pauli are astounding, thats why the two clubs are considered to be „brotherly clubs”, as often visit eachother for friendlies.
In conclusion with the examples of the three Madrid clubs, we have an establishment vs anti-establishment confrontation. Where stablishment happened to be right-wing, and antiestablishment – left wing, which is the typical case. Rarely there is left-establishment against right-anti-stablishment, due to some historical reasons. Later in the case of Bulgaria’s „Levski Sofia”, there will be such an example, where the state authority are left (communist), and the supporters of the club are considered to be anti-establishment and pro-right.
The respondent Lubomir Katsarov don’t have any policial ideas, formed or strenghtened by his belonging to the fan community of Real Madrid, but feels like, all Real Madrid fans are “like neighbours”. On the other side is Radoslav Rangelov a supporter of Athletico Madrid, who don’t feel in a community with other supporters, because for him that’s “too conformist”, but he thinks that the support for Athletico has strengthened his believes and ideas, although he defined himself as anarchist, which contrasts with the general assumption about that clubs supporters.
Greece: Panachaiki F.C
FC Panachaiki is a greek sport club from Patra, most famous by that, they were the first Greek club outside the capital Athens and the second large city of Thessaloniki to represent Greece in the „UEFA Cup” european football competition. The other characterizing thing is the supporters community of the club. The club colours are red and black, so are the flags and transparencies at the stadium except that, red and black are also the colours of the anarcho-syndicalists. (In brief – Anarcho-syndicalism is a type of anarchism which maintains that an anarchist society can come about through action by workers organised in unions – typically grassroots unions with direct democracy or without officials. Workers’ organisation is to culminate in a general strike which overcomes capitalism, as well as generating day-to-day resistance which weakens capitalist control.
What important happened in the city of Patra is that in the late XIX c. here were founded the first workers unions and associations. Some of the members of these organisations were also part of “Democratic club of Patras” whose members were also members of Panachaikos Gymnastics Club ( 1891 ). It’s no coincidence that the football club colours are also the colours of anarcho-syndicalism – red and black. To the club supporters fraction “Navajo”, (which in 2011, officially added the term “Antifa” to their organisation’s name), their the main objectives are “to support Panachaiki to be independent and to be antifascist.” Navajo-Antifa becames a “gathering place for anti-dascist from Patras and other cities to gather people in political activity.”
“Club members are fans of team from Patras. They have a political nature. They are anti-fascists and against modern football. They fight for a better life in and outside the sports grounds. During the matches of our team, flags with anti-fascist symbols, red and black flags, anti-Nazi symbols and social messages show different perspective in the stands of Patras.”
In Bulgaria, the cases are quite different, but not unusual for most of the ex-communist states in Europe. Till the soviet occupation in 1944, the sport life in Bulgaria was developing freely on free or cooperational basis. Some of Bulgaria’s most famous teams – “Levski” and “Slavia” were found like that in 1913 and 1914: “Levski is a civilian team it’s founded on this principle… Borkisha, Lybomir Pipkov… it really has been a „peoples team”. This was the final push of the Renaissance. Levski, Slavia – these teams were maden that way” , others like “Lokomotiv Sofia” was founded in 1929 when a group of railwaymen from a railway workshop in Sofia, highly captivated by the charm of the football game decided to form their organizational activity, creating “Raiway Sports Club”.
Interesting event is the visit of Spartak Moscow in Sofia for a game with Slavia in August 1940. Accroding to Ivan Kurtev in his documentary almanac „In the football fields of the five continents” this match, which was the first contact between Bulgarian and Soviet footballers, caused real public excitement. This contact resulted in „an impressive demonstration of genuine love for the nation-wide representatives of the Soviet country. More than 100,000 workers have flocked to the streets of Sofia to see and welcome the Soviet players. He qouted the bulgarian left-wing newspapper „Rabotnichesko delo” from 1940: „Workers quit their jobs. Craftsmen and small traders close shutters and hurried to the streets and squares where the Soviet youth was going to pass. With the appearance of the cars with the guests on a street, immediately the reinforced police cordon was swept away by the thousands that with“ hurray „, applause and bouquets praised the Soviet youth.” This event may be interpreted as a high interest by the bulgarian public, not to see the footballers of Spartak Moscow, becouse they are the famous „Spartak Moscow”, but becouse these were footballers from a communist state. Fact that hypothetically may be important in these turbulent years, when political parties and organisations are prohibited, but the far-right and far-left ideologies remained popular anyway. In my opinion football is a reflection of social reality, a reflection of political conflicts and relations. Thus for example, a lot of bulgarian footballers were involved in the local communist’s revolutionary movements. In his book „The football in Bulgaria”, the famous bulgarian sports-journalist Kliment Simeonov writes „ The progressive understanding of many activists from across the country for a new order in the representative sport organizations naturally finds its place in the increasing (everywhere) armed struggle for national freedom. In this struggle, the football in Bulgaria sacrifice a lot of dear victims.”.
During the Second World, the sport was also affected by the politics. In a lot of matches, the players of both of the teams were making nazi salute. That would create a lot of trouble to the players and teams manegement after the war. Becouse of that, Milko Balev – politicion, mister and member of the central committie of the ruling Bulgarian Communist party is famous with his words: „Not every Levski’s supporter is a fascist, but each fascist is a Levski’s supporter“.
After 1944, as the political and everyday life changed in Bulgaria, also the sport clubs were transformed. There was not anymore possible to found and organise a sport club on free basis. Sport clubs were found by the state, attached usually to specific industry or institution. For example nowdays CSKA Sofia (Central Sport Club of the Army) was found in 1948 as a sport club of the army, and Spartak Sofia – as a sport club of the Militia (Police). One of the basic rules of the newly established communist regime is in all areas and spheres of life they – the communist established sub organizations had to be the best. The sport is one of these areas. The newly created “millitary football club – „September“ at the Central House of the army (Септември при ЦДВ)”” was to play an important role in the bulgarian sports life the next few decades. The problem in the beginning, was that these new kind of football clubs didn’t have supporters. Therefore a lot of ordinary soldiers were brought to the stadiums to watch CSKA’s matches.
„One club has to have a good name, and I found the name „Levski“ as the most appropriate, because through some difficult years, it represented more than a football club. The name „Levski“ and our good players back then, were giving joy to the people. People were somehow happy, to go to shout and support Levski and simultaneously they were shouting for Bulgaria.. for Freedom.“
Another example of anti-communist (anti-nomenclature) activity is the popular 1968’s slogan „Levski, Dubcek, Freedom” related to The Prague Spring events in Czechoslovakia. The supression of the uprising by the Warsaw Pact states (without Romania) invasion on 21st August 1968 has an impact in most of the Eastern block countries in almost every major public sphere. As the sport-life too – it comes a new wave of reforms in Bulgarian football, some of which are mass unions of clubs. Thus, on January 22, 1969 FC Levski is united with the team FC Spartak (Sofia) and FC Sportist (Sofia) under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior. The team name was changed again (Firts time Levski’s name is changed by a decision of the Bulgarian Communist Party, firstly the team is closed then renamed „SO Dynamo” (sports organization of employees and workers in the postal system, communications, light and food industry)) – this time to Levski – Spartak. This is a turning point in the history of the club. Being under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior Levski became the sports section (departmental team) of the People’s Militia. According to its long-term fans interviewed for the film “We are Levski” this merger was never accepted by Levski’s supporters and enhanced the confrontation further:
„Not coincidentally, it was called „the people’s team”. Not accidentally, being a Levski supporter was part of the oppositionism.„, Going to the matches was a protest against the government. Against communism. Expressing, I think, our sense of dissidence in the stadium.”„In those times, in this prison in which we lived, there was not much place for commercialism. There was more room for party sycophants. But Levski and Levski’s supporters were not such people… and it was a center of people of a differing opinion and non-conformists.” “Those years when he lived were gray, gloomy years. People outward were dressed in the same way. Gray, black suits. We were students – mandatory blue uniforms, costumes. Girls with some idiotic blue aprons. When I got to the „Gerena“ I saw people with denim, denim jackets with stripes, long-haired, bearded. Different people, colourfull, people who had nothing to do with those who I could meet in the trolley or in school.”
Some of the last political actions which were organised by Levski Sofia’s supporters was the support of the Sofia University Occupation by large group of students who wanted resignation of the gouvernment and national parliament on the 16th November 2013 (the 25th day of the occupation). Levski Sofia ultrases marched next to the occupied university before the derby with CSKA.
In modern day football matches is not unusual a fascist and nazi symbols to be seen. As swastika or nazi salutes for example. Nevertheless FC Spartak Varna is an exception in the bulgarian football life: „One of the interesting things about our supporters is that, at least so far we have not allowed the entry of neo-Nazi groups in our ranks and never remiss fascist flag from our sector. A fact of which we are proud. This is mainly due to of a large group of blue-white fanatics (mainly „MB’95“ and „SVUD“, but not only), who shared in the 90’s the principles of anarchism. Since the beginning of the XXI century, our sector is apolitical!” The respondent Plamen Chakarov says that he is proud that swastikas on their stadium and tribune has never been hoisted.
But the most vivid evidence how important and powerful the football is, can be seen in its political relevance in socialist Bulgaria with the decision of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1985 to disband and rename the two most famous bulgarian clubs – Levski and CSKA. Important because the preoccupation with it is even at the level of the top party and state leadership. After a derby for the state’s cup, which ended with mass fighting between players and fans. After the party’s decision a lot of the footballers are punished and to some of them there is life-time prohibition for playing again. After while the two teams are re-established but their names are changed to “Vitosha” and “Sredets”, as also their last titles are taken. A year later, all penalties are waived and punished players are allowed to continue with their sports career. What is really important here is that these decisions were made not by the Bulgarian Football Federation, who was supposed to rule the football relations at that time. The decisions and bans were made by the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party (“ЦК на БКП“) which was the major and ultimate governing “political organ” with a “leading role” in communist Bulgaria’s constitution, which is supposed to be solving various important state affairs and not to deal with football clubs. However, it seems that what is happening in the football life is important and it is of particular importance for society. A permitted chaos there may threaten the party’s future, the leaders fame and the country’s stability.
According the survey respondents, supporters of Levski like P.P. says that “CSKA was created by communists to glorify the sport under the communism and Levski was created quite other ideals “, ”coming from common values outside of football, which unite the fans” as Mina Donkova says.
Fandom and Trancultural identities
The concept of cultute as the major factor in the nation-state and even in its disappearence is central in the Transculturalism theories. This process of knowing and exploring ourselves through the prism of the other leads inevitably to a cosmopolitan citizenship. This citizenship, becoming less and less dependent of political structures and institutions, develops each individual in the understanding that one’s culture is “multiple”, and that each human experience is due to the contact with other. So can football affiliation be an instrument for transculuralism?
It could say that a person acquires a communal identity, when is recognized as a member of a group or recognized as such by members of another group. Social identity can be seen as a ““production”, which is never complete, always in process and always constituted within, not outside, representation”. As I’ve tried to show with the chapter „Notable cases”, football can be a powerful catalyst for social identities it can be a motivating factor for emerging of various identities – local, ethnic, national, religious, professional and more. To show how a cosmopolitan football citizenship can emerge around a group of people with a common interests, history, culture, around a „sports Ummah”. In the same citizenship’s concept, the fandom means that a supporter is identifying himself with the club, like the last one is a part of him, a part of his self-consciousness.
In this dimension, “football condenses, like the best drama plays one of the main themes of our times. Football teams and fan clubs represent something, some identity, some positive identification versus many others, in an extremely expressive way.”
This phenomenon is possible in the context of globalization, in particular communications, which allow for the formation of transnational fancy or subcultural communities (which can be seen in music scene also).
I focused on the transculturalist identities as they appear through the supporter’s groups of the sport clubs. I find the political, cultural, the local and the global significations which refer to the active citizenship as fans participate in local or global demonstrations and protests. In order to examine better the fandom transcultural effect, I’ve choose to made a short interviews with representatives of some local or foreign football clubs supporters, which are part of official or unofficial fan organisations in Bulgaria. The selected respondetnrs are people who I personally know as I’ve already mentioned in the Introduction part.
or Todor Bozhinov a fan of FC St. Pauli, there is matching between his political biases and the famous German club civic and political ideas outside the stadium. It could be saied that there was a coincidence with a period of personal interest in leftist movements and the punk music and cultural scene by him on one side and his “relationship” with football fandom on the other. Todor’s support to FC St. Pauli strengthened his relationship with Hamburg and the German liberal north and influenced his choice to study a Masters Programme in neighboring and very similar in this respect to the Hamburg city of Bremen. In his opinion the belonging to a supporters group or simply the love to a football club can form political attitudes, „especially among younger fans, the influence of the football community on the character, habits, and political orientation is direct and enormous. To the favorite team , a person (fan) open emotionaly, which make it easy and facilitates the absorption of the respective political influences.”
Dimitar Haralampiev – a fan of the english West Hamm United football club has developed his love to the favoutite team by a computer game in his childhood, but after he grew up he said: „ On a subconscious level I was always looking for a club with a strong identity to which I can belong, and in the case of the game – to be my hallmark. Fiftheen years later, I am associating with West Ham that I would be hard to highlight something specific, but among the most important is the socio-cultural background of the club, its links with youth subcultures and many supporters in music scene and alternative movements that influenced me greatly, and of course, purely on a football level – courage, bravery and valor that showcase players from different generations. West Ham is also a very „romantic” club for each fonded to the English spirit and specifics of the Island.” According to him „the largest export product of England – the football, was extremely important (and affordable) part of the life of every fan of the game.“ To belonging to a football community as he understand it , there is no way not lead to greater interest – „first you are interested in the team, then of its history, the history of the city and neighbourhood feuds and grounds and so on. ‘Issues’, which more or less are related to the historical, political and social knowledge that directly or indirectly accumulate, especially in the case of West Ham, which incidentally is the most important club for the English ‘national’ football memory.” „ We all share the same passion, respectively, the same fears, hopes, aspirations” he said, but is not sure if his love to the club formed his political ideas or strengthened the ones he already has. „ Is it possible to happen in general – rather yes. I ve became witness of such cases not only with West Ham, but with other teams around the world and in our country. Generally the whole concept of the game of football is political and concerns the political spectrum of public life. Since the dawn of football, as a working class game, the division at the stadiums happened to class and urban principle (which is also a class, especially with regard to the peak of the ‘fanaticism’ – 60s, 70s, 80s .. .) For example Miloul and West Ham hate eachother, but this can be explained by the story about the triviality of their founding. But today, as yesterday, one can easily see the class differences between the two sides, which lead to differences in political beliefs. One of the classic examples of this clash is between Chelsea and Liverpool – both part of the bourgeois, wealthy area of London, and the other – one of the two teams of the poor city workers. Again, this is a battle between elitists and precariat, but this time the ballots are tickets for football matches.
For Dimitrar Haralampiev, „football is a very complex game. It’s not just 11 against 11 between two doors with a ball. This is the ‘we’ and ‘you’, which in turn is a classic political division. In the 70s and 80s that occurs naturally in all kinds of competing political attitudes – most conditioned by realities such as “Thatcherism” and the effect it has on society and on the game specifics. No one of the teams and its fans from Northern England, for example can not be seen to manifest right-conservative values, for example. I do not think this can be ‘outlived’, even in the era of the business-football, where the stadiums of leading teams are almost entirely filled with tourists or wealthy people(because only such can afford it) with seasonal cards. Football have too long been an expression of everything that can not find an outlet in dull, gray and no-change everyday life of the British worker. We are familiar even with cases in which is attested power relations between fans on one side and society on the other. This is, for example, the famous maxim of the mid 70s, when fractions of Manchester United are unbeatable – „six days of the week the Queen is rulling and on the seventh – Red Army.“” For Plamen Marinov – member of the official bulgarian FC Arsenal fanclub in Sofia more or less everything is possible „into the herd”. His interest in football and ultras factions has made him to research more about their political ideas, but he cannot connect FC Arsenal in any way with politics.
In coclusion most of the respondents were „born” as fans of their favourite team, or become fans at a very early age (M.B. says he was fan of CSKA, brought up with this idea before he could even spoke). We can say that „love for the club” is a part of „family preferences”, which are already set. In general the respondents feel as one community with other fans of the same team from other countries, especially when there are „really strong friendly relation” as Aleksandra Atanasova says for the „brotherhood” connections between the supporters of Levski ana Lazio or like in the case with Dynamo Dresden and FK Sarajevo according to Alexander Weber or with Lokomotiv Sofia and Favoritner Athletic Club for Lars Tilmann and more. Most of the respondents are aware, or presume that the non-supporters, the „other people” accept them as a neo-fascist hooligans, and without being asked for that answered to explain that, thats not true. As Radoslav Sapundzhiev, a supporter of Lokomotiv Sofia thinks „Unlike most other fan factions Nazism and Fascism are not extremely rooted in our philosophy. Although Ulras concept is not defined as a political doctrine, it should be mentioned as a key factor in decision making. In Loko’s medium, the democratic decision-making supplements ultras culture.“For him „the clash with each social formation is a prerequisite for the formation of political attitude. Football as a social phenomenon causes further developing of political bias, because most fans’ are in the public sphere.”
In view of the conducted interviews it can be concluded that respondents definitely believe that there is a connection between football and political attitudes, but for most of them, this is considered something „bad“or „unnatural“ for something „It should not be happening”. So it can be cocluded that there is a stable „taboo” for mixing football fandom and politics. “Politics and Sport this doesn’t work, they don’t belong together!” Lubomir Katsarov says „It should not be so and it should not divide people just because they sympathize to different things. This is a sport and I hate any politics or neo-nationalist movements that are intertwined in the fan base.”.
To other this collide is sometnihing normal and therefore the shapping of political identities is something natural. The respondent Radoslav Rangelov even said that „overall, due to Atletico Madrid I became an anarchist.” wich contrasts with the non-anarchist charachter of his favourite club and probably has its other explanations. Others like Sava Kasaliyski a supporter of CSKA denies that the football affiliations can form political identities – „if so I had to be a fascist, by looking at the fans.” to him that’s matter of vulnerability and education.
In a short review, the interviews where useful with the information given. To wit, that football clubs and their supporter’s groups can be, not always, but often be seen as creators of political and transcultural identities. That the football game offers more than a sport spectacle. As the german writer Wladimir Kaminer says “when the situation worsens, when unemployment is rising, the press is rebellin, the economy is stagnant, it is sometimes sufficient only a single goal to perk and revitalize. The index of public climate, immediately rose to two thousand points.”
With the current thesis I tried to examine the relationship between sport and politics.
During and since last century, the sport and escpecially the football game has became a crucial and integral part and factor of the everyday life, business and economics, cultural liaisons and politics in general. Football nowadays is not only a sport, but an amalgam of all these. That’s why we can speak of Sport or Football Economics, Football Culture and Football Diplomacy. Not coincidentally, such scandals as the FIFA 2015 Corruption case. loudly affected and disrupted the whole world, as so much things are at stake. A part of that big picture, but firmly connected to it there are the football clubs with their history, fans, succeses, money and influence, and of course fan and ultras societies gravitating them. Often supporters of one club, over time build a political affiliation on the basis of their fandom. That can be seen in some prominent cases that I have examined. The fandom itself can be and is bearer of political and transcultural ideas and identities. This concrete link (relationship) between Sport and Politics is responsible for the formation of ideas, concepts and models of development of human societies. In order to see clearly that link I’ve begin my analysis with psychological theories and concepts related to the behaviour of supporters’ masses. After each specific example that I mentioned and examined – I’ve made an infobox with information about the stated football clubs, their worldwide support and political allegiance. I have tried to note the similarity or dissimilarity between some of the prominent clubs worldwide and in Bulgaria, where I found some similar examples of political correlation in the fandom communities. As a summary I can say that the mentioned clubs – St. Pauli, Panachaiki, Omonia, Livorno, Celtic, Rayo Vallecano, Spartak Varna and with a lot of reservations – CSKA are part of the left political spectrum, where St. Pauli, Panachaiki, Celtic, Rayo Vallecano and Spartak are more close to anarchists conception of left, or lets say “non-establishment” left, and Livorno, Omonina, CSKA to the communist conception, where the factor of establishment varies through history. On the other side Lazio, Beitar, Bilbao, Rangers, Levski, Athletico Madrid are more close to the ideologies of nationalism and are more right-wing, as for the relation to the establishment, it again varietes through history, for example Levski was a non-establishment orientated club/center in the totalitarian communist past, but nowadays its not like that. As for Lazio or Athletico – during the fascists authoritarian regimes in Italy and Spain they were pro-establishment in a way. In the middle are clubs like Slavia, Lokomotiv Sofia and Real Madrid, where there are unrevealed or none political affiliations coming from the club and/or its supporter’s groups. However, as we can see, there are always preconditions for revealing ot developing of such.
With continuously increasing its global popularity – the football game, displace other type of sports and creates many new communities which often are becoming a motor and creators of political and transcultural identities.