Narratives and Practices of Doing Kinship and Doing Home

One significant difference between the narratives of how people were socialised into football, was whether they became a fan in Istanbul and other cities in Turkey, or whether they became a fan in Vienna and other Central or West European cities. In a nutshell: whether or not they became a fan in a diasporic context and whether they had the chance to go to the stadium or to watch in bars in Turkey. Additionally, there are the ones that spent part of their childhood in Austria and part of their childhood in Turkey. They are both socialised in a fan culture abroad and in a fan culture in Istanbul. This is relevant because in some terms fan practices differ, such as where and how it is preferred to watch the matches, and the reasons why someone loves the club and likes being a fan.

Gender is another important aspect of the way people were introduced to football. All of the key persons who introduced my male and female interview partners to football by taking them to the stadium for the first time or by watching matches together with them on TV were exclusively male. Sometimes female persons such as mothers and sisters were involved in their first experiences with football as well, but fathers, uncles or male friends, siblings and cousins are retrospectively considered the initiators and role models for the love of the club. This applies especially to attending matches at the stadium. In this case, it does not matter whether a female or male fan grew up in Istanbul or in Vienna: it is a male key figure from which football fandom is considered to be learned.

The main narrative of those interview partners that grew up in Istanbul is about a father or uncle that took them to the stadium for their first time.

Cem: Since I was three or four years old I went with my father to the Ali Sami Yen Stadium to watch Gala [Galatasaray] matches. When I was 13 or 14 I started to go to the matches on my own or with friends.[1]

Another prominent way of how people describe their first contact with football and why they started liking it is by playing themselves: playing on the streets with friends, playing in an official football club and also playing football via video games such as ‘FIFA’. Sinan, born and raised in Istanbul, explains that he has neither played football, as he was not very sporty, nor did he watch the matches when he was a child or a young teenager. Nevertheless, he emphasises that he was ‘born into’ a Galatasaray family and that therefore the love of Galatasaray was always part of the family. He considers football fandom as something that can be ‘inherited’.

Sinan: I have always been a Galatasaray-Fan. I have never played football nor did I watch matches, but the love has always been there without watching football. [...] My father was a passionate Galatasaray fan and my mother, yes, she doesn’t like football, but she also has this love [for Galatasaray].[2]

Here, the family aspect is important to explain one’s loyalty, making it clear that loyalty can start without even watching football - even without liking football. In this case, expressing the loyalty to a club is a central practice of community building and doing kinship by adopting the club’s symbolic meaning that the family members agreed upon. Sinan only became interested in watching the matches when he found another way to identify with the players via his PlayStation.

Sinan: Yes, I started playing FIFA, I still did not watch the matches, but I always played FIFA with Galatasaray and every other team. Yes, exactly, I played FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer a lot and then this, this urge came up that I wanted to watch football.[2]

Many of the interviewees regard their ‘choice’ of the club as destiny, a ‘naturally given’ way, or a family legacy and heritage. Mesut summarises it quite rationally. Mesut is a 27-year-old student, born and raised in Berlin by Turkish parents.[4] At the time of the interview, he had been living in Vienna for more than six years. He moved to Vienna to study at one of the Viennese Universities.

Mesut: But once some friends of my father’s were visiting us and they had a son of the same age [as me]. He was already back then a pretty fanatic Fenerbahpe fan and he then infected me. It’s always like this in Turkey, well the same in Germany, you get infected by your brother, father or by friends. First come, first served. You don’t become a fan from conviction [aus Uberzeugung], but when someone, for example a Bejiktaj fan comes along first, well then you become a Bejiktaj fan.[5]

Mesut’s rather ‘practical’ approach to loyalties in football fandom also emphasises the family aspect. However, he underlines that family members are ‘just’ the first ones that have the chance to influence the choice of team. This process is not described as an active choice by a fan. He even compares it to a disease that spreads by ‘infecting’ others. Cem on the other hand, who considers himself as a free mind, tries to find a way to make it his choice again, but with a hint of irony and humour. He works as an editor and a writer for a sports web page and was asked by his company to write a report about his own fandom.

Cem: And I wrote, I started like this: I am not a Turkey fan. Because I

didn’t choose that, well, I could not choose where I was born. But I am a Galatasaray, Gala fan, because I could choose that. Well, of course, it is an issue you can argue about. My father was a good fan, he says, when I asked him about this, he always says: Boy, I told you about Galatasaray’s character, about Fenerbahfe’s and about that of Bejiktaj and you yourself chose. When you were three or four years old. (Cem and Nina start laughing).[6]

In speaking ironically about his ‘choice’, Cem makes clear that there is no real choice, even though many fans, himself included, claim to have chosen a club for a certain reason. Most of the time the loyalty to the clubs exists first due to the wish to belong to a community which is mostly a family or peer-group (cf. Crabbe 2008; Bromberger 1995b; Hognestad 2012). After these introductory remarks on fan biographies I will further focus on the everyday practices of doing home and doing kinship among Fenerbahqe and Galatasaray fans in Vienna.

  • [1] Interview Cem, 34 years old, male, Galatasaray fan, 21 August 2012, Turkish restaurant, Vienna,late afternoon.
  • [2] Interview Sinan, 24 years old, male, Galatasaray fan, 23 November 2012, atelier at his university,Vienna, afternoon.
  • [3] Interview Sinan, 24 years old, male, Galatasaray fan, 23 November 2012, atelier at his university,Vienna, afternoon.
  • [4] Many high school graduates in Germany decide to go to Austria to study because it is oftencheaper and easier to be accepted. See: derStandard.at (2014) Deutsche Studenten stromen weiterbevorzugt an osterreichische Unis, http://derstandard.at/2000009041250/Deutsche-Studenten-stroemen-weiter-bevorzugt-an-oesterreichische-Unis, (published 5 December 2014, accessed 30October 2015).
  • [5] Interview Mesut, 27 years old, male, Fenerbah^e fan and Hertha Berlin fan, 7 Februar 2013, traditional Viennese coffee house, afternoon.
  • [6] Interview Cem, 34 years old, male, Galatasaray fan, 21 August 2012, Turkish restaurant, Vienna,late afternoon.
 
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