The Research Field

In this book I will often talk simply about football fans meaning always both female and male football fans because in almost all locations such as pubs or football stadia there were always both women and men or girls and boys. If I am referring to a men-only group I will talk about male football fans and if I am referring to a women-only group I will explicitly talk about female football fans.

Galatasaray and Fenerbah^e fans in Vienna are as diverse in terms of social class, education, places they grew up, political affiliations, age and gender as football fans are elsewhere. One aim of the research was to look into contrastive groups to be able to understand fandom practices, perceptions and meanings from different socio-cultural perspectives. My interview partners have various political affiliations, from left-wing to conservative. Many of them were born and raised in Vienna; others have spent most of their life in Istanbul and came to Vienna only a few years ago. And others spent their childhood and teenage years partly in Vienna and partly in Istanbul. Some engage in their football fandom in Vienna only, while many spend their ‘fan time’ split between Vienna, Istanbul and other European cities. All of them are neither hooligans nor ultras. Some are very committed and even own a season ticket for matches in Istanbul, whereas others prefer watching at home in Vienna in front of the computer. However, all of them consume Turkish football on a regular basis and communicate via social media and transnational channels. They stay up-to-date by following Turkish (football) media such as newspapers or TV channels. All of them have in common that they are connected to Turkey via their families: either their parents or grandparents came from Turkey or they were born in Turkey themselves.

A general precondition to this research project is the technological advancement that occurred only in the last two decades. In interviews with football fans that migrated in the 1970s or 1980s to Vienna,[1] the supporters often talked about the problems they experienced in performing their fandom back then. One could not watch matches and could only find out the results in newspapers that often arrived days after the match. They said that it was the only way to find out the results. With technology enhancement, the situation changed and my interviewees explained that they resumed following Turkish football on a regular basis. The Super Lig (the highest Turkish football league) fan culture in Vienna, as it can be observed today, is still quite new due to limited accessibility in the past. The use of media changed and is still changing the perception and more importantly also the performance of football fandom abroad. It enables a fan to integrate the performance of love and loyalty to a football club into their everyday lives simultaneously to the events in Turkey. In the past, due to the lack of information, watching football in a bar and spontaneously going to public places to celebrate the victory of an important match was simply not possible. As a result, Turkish football fan culture was less visible in the city of Vienna.

My fieldwork research initially began through my participation in and communication with two non-organised groups of fans in Vienna: a group of students from Istanbul and a group of local regulars from a pub which I will refer to as the ‘Fenerbahqe Pub’. Starting from these two groups, my research led me to many other different groups, fan clubs and individuals. As varied as my interviewees are in many aspects, all of them associate themselves with a Turkish diaspora in Vienna, and all of them were either born in Vienna or have been living there for several years, thereby having strong affiliations to the city. Most of them are either in their twenties and early thirties or late forties and early fifties and they are both male and female.

The following sections do not include all interview partners or persons from my fieldnotes that will be mentioned in the course of the book. The people that I introduce here are the central persons in my research and they are particularly central for the analysis.

  • [1] Interview Orhan, in his late forties, male, Galatasaray fan, 9 November 2012, cafe, Vienna, afternoon. Interview Metin, 45 years old, male, Galatasaray fan, Metins and his family’s apartment,Viennese suburb, afternoon; together with his daughter Derya, 15 years old, Galatasaray fan andhis wife Nevin, in her forties.
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