Ethnicising Football Fandom

These ethnicising practices are particularly dominant when fans perceive and use football as a link to their (former) home country and to their family and friends. It is necessary to differentiate between fans that grew up in Turkey and had their first fan experiences there and those that became fans in Vienna. For the first group the nostalgia about a former home is often connected to a positive imagination and a constructed emotional bond to homelike places. Fandom can become a strategy of doing home. For both this group and for the second group, whose members did not grow up in Turkey, being a fan can become a strategy of doing kinship. Some use their football fandom to create and maintain links to family members and also to these family members’ country of origin.

The identification with the Gezi protests is significant in this nexus of ethnicisation and (Turkish) community building. Even fans who were not (directly) touched by the protests identified with them or disapproved with them strongly. This interest was often a result of understanding Turkey as a homelike place and therefore of being concerned (and informed!) about events in the country. However, self-ethnicisation is always also a result of ethnicisation by others. The students from Istanbul started to perceive themselves as Turkish to such a great extent only after having moved to Vienna. In Vienna, they are attributed to a generalised Turkish (or more accurately, Turkified) diaspora by others. Consequently, discriminating incidents such as a campaign against Turkish inhabitants in Vienna launched by right-wing parties can result in a strong self- ethnicisation and nationalisation, as was retrospectively reflected in the fandom narratives.

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