Football Atmosphere Essay
In many European countries the presence of drummers, horn blowers etc.in the sections occupied by 'true' fans, each performing their rehearsed ritual roles, generates an emotionally charged atmosphere that is unparalleled in any other sport.In our discussions with fans there was a defiant stance against 'fair-weather supporters' — those who only attend matches occasionally or when their team is doing well.Such fans lack dedication and resilience and the detailed knowledge of team statistics, standings, players and history that is characteristic of 'true' fans.Football fans describe themselves as the 'twelfth man' — as essential to the success of the team as the players and coaching staff.It is the actions performed by fans during the game — the ritual chants, songs, banner waving, etc.Most men become fans because their father would take them to matches as a child, and many older fans still retain strong memories of these formative experiences.
In the remaining 11 countries, online and telephone interviews were conducted with fans.
In addition to the actions performed in the stadiums during the match, pre- and post-game rituals are important in creating a sense of community among fans.
From meeting up with other fans for a drink before and after the game to the orchestrated coordination of fabric squares to make up a larger banner, rituals foster a strong sense of belonging to the fan group.
References to extreme emotional experiences at football games characterised all aspects of discussions with fans — some referring to the 'pure joy' and exhilaration of being at football games.
Such is the intensity of the experience that two thirds of fans have cried at football matches — mostly through joy, but occasionally because of despair.