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The Europeanisation of Nation-state and Regional Identities: Football as a Carrier of Identity Change (or) The Europeanisation of Identities through Football: a New Reality of European Football?

Arne Niemann, Alexander Brand

Since more than 15 years we can witness a growing influence of the European Union on the governance of football in Europe. We argue that Europeanisation processes in the area of sport have also set in motion processes of change on the level of identities and thus constitute a new reality in European football. Several drivers have tentatively been identified in that respect, such as the influence of a more 'European' nationality regime across the (major) European leagues, with the best players often stemming from other European/EU countries, or the success of the Champions League brand (e.g. in terms of match attendance, broadcasting rates, and general prestige attached to it), which is the result of transnational Europeanisation processes. We argue that such Europeanising mechanisms have also left their mark on sports fans, i.e. the main consumers sport. In many respect sport is an ideal carrier of identity change because it draws on the emotional level/investment of the supporter, which has been regarded as important in socialization and norm/value changing processes. The paper constitutes a pilot study of a larger project and tentatively examines the extent to which the Europeanisation of football has affected supporters' identities. We will mainly draw on two methods/types of data: first, discourse analysis of two selected supporters' chat forums; second survey data generated by a pilot survey among football supporters of two selected football clubs. Sports has a medium for identity changes has largely been ignored in the field of European integration studies. In addition, the public (here represented by supporters) have, to a lesser extent, been subject to research concerning EU identity change than the elite level.



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