Sibel, Cem, Sinan, and Selin

The first group of fans, that is, the students from Istanbul, came to Austria after they finished school in Turkey in order to continue their studies at one of the universities in Vienna. Most of them were enrolled in programmes in art, design and other similar disciplines. The school they attended in Istanbul is prestigious and considered to be mostly available to students that come from a middle class background. They were confronted with similar problems that many other students face when studying abroad, such as visa issues, language difficulties, and loneliness, to name but a few. The crucial difference, however, is that due to the large Turkish diaspora in Vienna, they were often associated with the constructed image of Turkish ‘ Gastarbeiter [‘guest worker’] migrants in Austria and consequently also faced similar prejudices and stereotypes.

The central persons in the student group are Sibel, Cem and Sinan. They represent a female and male perspective of educated students that grew up in Istanbul. All three underwent a good education and had the financial and educational possibilities to go abroad to study. They thus represent a well-educated middle class from Istanbul. Selin grew up in Vienna, is also well-educated and is friends with some of the fans from the student group. All four of them are in their twenties and early thirties and engaged in rather artistic studies. They have jobs and/or interests in the same area. All of them were strongly politicised when the Gezi protests sparked off in late spring 2013 but already belonged to a rather left-wing milieu before that.

Coming from the metropolis of Istanbul, one of the biggest cities in the world, Sibel, Cem and Sinan grew up and were socialised in a very diverse environment with innumerable possibilities for going out, studying, spending time and watching football. Selin goes to Istanbul quite often, as well. I met her at an art event as part of the Gezi protests in Istanbul in summer 2013. Contrary to their self-image, in Vienna all of them are often identified as ‘being Turkish’ rather than as being part of a cosmopolitan artistic elite. Ethnicised or nationalised attributions of being Turkish in Austria strongly intersect with attributions of social class and political views. Thus, being associated with a Turkish diaspora does not only generate images of coming from Turkey or having Turkish ancestors but also coming from a lower social class and often also of being conservative. This often resulted in serious practices of distinction from other Turkish migrants in Vienna (Chap. 5).

One male fan from this group, Cem, was a central character for my research. He can be considered the classic door opener or gatekeeper. He was the first person I interviewed and he later introduced me to other people and eventually he also introduced me to the owner of the Fenerbahqe Pub. He is a key informant or rather ‘key participant’, as information does not simply ‘exist’ and is then ‘given’ to the ethnographer but is produced in the interaction with the ethnographer (O’Reilly 2009, p. 136). Via Cem I gained access to Galatasaray and also to Fenerbahqe fans in Vienna. He initially decided which doors were open for me and which ones stayed closed (cf. Lindner 1984). As the book will show, this is why my contact to football fans in Vienna started quite commonly with people drawn from a similar milieu to my own and I only slowly gained access to other Fenerbahqe and Galatasaray supporters in Vienna.

With the student group I watched matches in private places and in different pubs throughout Vienna depending on the match. One of the places that they mostly frequented is a place that I will refer to as ‘Football Restaurant’. It is a restaurant with an eating area and a big ballroom that served predominantly Turkish dishes. The ballroom is the room that is most crowded and loud during important matches such as Champions League matches. In the ‘Football Restaurant’ all of the tables were covered with white table cloths which gave the place a very formal, restaurant-like appearance. The restaurant contained several TV sets in every room which screened football on match days.

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