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Europeanisation from below? Football Spectatorship, Mediatisation and European Identity

Arne Niemann, Alexander Brand

The ongoing Europeanisation of governance structures of sport, especially football, has become one of the most fruitful avenues of social science-oriented Sports Studies. Carrying research further, we ask whether there are consequences from such altered forms of governance with regard to the lifeworlds of sports consumers. I.e. we question whether there are changes at the level of supporters' and spectators' perceptions, and in a wider sense: their identities? The underlying idea is that the increasing depth and frequency of interactions related to football in Europe has also led to an incremental change of perceptions and, by that, altered the very shapes of "communities of belonging". Of specific importance, in this regard, seems the UEFA Champions League (CL), the de facto pan-European league competition of top European clubs which could be interpreted as constituting a rather stable transboundary space of action. Preliminary research so far has hinted at new forms of allegiance, orientation and networking among elite actors in the CL context. We hypothesise that the developments have also left their mark on sports fans, i.e. the main consumers of sport. In order to build a bridge between conceptual work on the Europeanisation of lifeworlds and more ethnographically oriented research into incremental identity change, this paper aims to describe the UEFA Champions League as a site where a "European public football space" forms, both in terms of transboundary spectatorship and fandom as well as through the continuous creation/normalisation of transnational media events, i.e. CL broadcasts.

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