Football Fanatics: A Sociological Subculture Study

A Sociological Subculture Study – Football Fanatics


Football fanaticism is one of the most popular subcultures in the world. With its origin in Europe and now spread around the globe, football fanaticism has an enormous number of followers. The popularity of football is continuously on the rise. The rise is a result of the increase in matches and professional competitors. These characteristics, combined with the widespread passion for the game, make football fanaticism an exciting topic of study.

Football fanatics create a distinct subculture. Among the characteristics that complete football fanaticism as a sub-culture is that it exists as part of larger and more complex cultures (Dogari, Apuke, & Shadrach 2). Fanatics arise from other cultures, such as nationalities and regions. The devotees also have typical beliefs that are unique to the sub-culture. One of the distinctive features of the subculture is that it is a function of immense support from people who associate themselves with specific groups of professional participants. Also, unlike in other sub-cultures, fanatics of a particular team can be from different cultures.

Although its origin is Europe, the increased popularity of football over the years has made it a global phenomenon. It is, therefore, present in all the major continents. Research into the history, demographic changes, social behavior, and impact on society seeks to find out the in-depth details of football fanaticism as a sub-culture. The research uses both primary and secondary sources. The study confirms that football fanaticism is a sub-culture that has its unique impacts on society using both the results from interviews and literature review.

A Sociological Subculture Study- Football Fanatics
A Sociological Subculture Study- Football Fanatics


Football fanaticism originated in England. The sub-culture rose together with the advent of football in the 1300s (Hodges 411). Football players gathered in teams according to the village of their origin. They played against teams from other towns. The game was, however, underdeveloped in various aspects as compared to its current status. Its fanatics subsided after the ban of the game by King Edward III. The game was, however, revived in the 1880s in the same region. The spectators of the game supported different teams, but acts of hooliganism overshadowed their fanaticism.

Often, there was chaos and violence after some teams were defeated. The fanatics often caused massive destruction both within and outside the football stadia. The hooligan fanaticism continued for as long as the rules of the game were insufficient. With time, however, the hooliganism declined although it did not end, especially during World War I and II (‘Subcultures and Sociology‘ 1). The vandalism continued after the two wars, but it reduced after the organizers thought of separating the fans of different teams during matches. Doing so strengthened the unity of fans since they sat together. The sub-culture gained in population over the years, with violence and fatalities declining as the football authorities formulate and enact more rules to govern matches.

The demographics of football fanaticism have also been changing over the years. It is paramount to note that football fanatics in the modern day are both male and female. Gender, masculinity, and class are, however, significant determinants of the population within the subculture (‘Subcultures and Sociology‘ 1). In the past, people considered football to be a game of the male species. The association of men with football was mainly due to the hooliganism that often led to violence. A significant number of violent persons were men. The association and fanaticism have, however, declined over the years with the decline in violence and other acts of hooliganism (Dogari, Apuke, & Shadrach 2). The demasculinization of fanaticism is notable through the increased number of female supporters and the introduction of ladies’ football. In contemporary society, football fanatics include both men and women. An example of such is the presence of women amongst the chanting groups.


The research embarked on interviewing diehard football fans an hour before the start of a match. The fieldwork site selected was the entrance of a stadium. It served the interests of the research in several ways. One of the most important was that it was a strategic position from which spotting a potential respondent was natural. It was easy to differentiate the types of people entering the stadium for the maximum effectiveness of the interview. The close range at which the entrants passed also eased the process of seeking permission to interview them orally. By so doing, the research fulfilled the essential requirement of consent. The site also assisted in saving the time used for the interview. The specificity of the time of the match made it easy to determine the specific time of the meeting as well as maximize the sample size handled within a particular period.

The selection criteria of the respondents assumed a well-defined course. According to Hodges (2016), the difference between a mere viewer and a fanatic is notable through their social behavior and group interactions (Hodges 412). The respondents selected had similar characteristics of wearing team-oriented colors and carrying items such as whistles. The fanatics were also identifiable from the restless behavior they portrayed. There were scenes of people screaming, singing, and chanting team songs. The supporters of one team joined to raise their voice in a bid to counter the other team’s songs. They displayed behaviors of a verbal altercation against the opposing team’s supporters. There was, however, no physical engagement.

After interviewing them, the fanatics expressed numerous but similar perspectives on life, society, and identity. The interview questions included:

  1. How long have you been a football fan?
  2. Approximately how much do you spend on football-related activities every year?
  3. Have you ever engaged in physical altercation due to football-related matters? If so, why?
  4. How many times have you ever traveled for an away game?
  5. Do you support other sports the way you do football? Why or why not?
  6. If a close friend or relative decided to get married on the day of a championship game that your team was playing in and you had tickets to the game, would you go to the game or would you go to the wedding?

A majority of them said that they spent more than $3000 every year and have been fanatics for a considerably long period. 40% had, at least once, engaged in physical fights, but a significant majority had several counts of verbal engagements against opposing team’s supporters. About 70% of them had at least three experiences of traveling for away matches. Only one of the respondents supported other sports with the zeal he had for football. Most female fanatics explained that they felt all right associating themselves with the teams despite it being considered a man’s game. A significant majority chose not to answer the last question, citing that it required a meditation session so they could not respond right away.


Football fanaticism is part of society. In the negative aspect, some extremists of the sport disturb other people and affect their lives when they engage in physical. Some of the pressing issues associated with the same are physical injuries, deaths, verbal bullying, and inter-personal bitterness. The fanatics are, however, more interested in the sport than in engaging in violence (Dogari, Apuke, & Shadrach 2). From a positive perspective, football fanaticism is an exciting experience that offers comfort, leisure, and integrates people. It is, therefore, a vital sub-culture that has numerous benefits in society.

In conflict theory, football fanatics face exclusion and political powerlessness. A significant majority of the devotees have a low-class background (‘Subcultures and Sociology‘ 1). In cases of conflict, the fanatics have to protect themselves using hooligan means as a way of survival. In contrast, the facilitators of football matches are usually wealthy persons and companies who wish to promote their products. The environment in which people grow has a significant influence on their level of fanaticism (Hodges 415). Those who come from poor settings have a higher chance of exhibiting football hooliganism than those whose backgrounds are well-up.


The research indicates that football fanaticism is an existent sub-culture. Beginning from Europe, the sub-culture has been in existence for many centuries. In contemporary society, it is deeply rooted in many places around the world. The sub-culture is an integral part of the community, owing to the benefits accrued. It is an essential part of society. There are, however, negativities associated with the sub-culture, such as physical and psychological harm. With the changes being effected regarding the rules of engagement, the sub-culture is likely to spread more but with fewer negativities.

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