Accepted Paper:

Football fandom as a factor behind cultural differentiation: a case study on Sarajevo and Zeljeznicar fans in Bosnia and Herzegovina  


Özgür Dirim Özkan (Yeni Yuzyil University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will be based on the outcomes of a one year long ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Sarajevo / Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 2007 – January 2008. It will try to show out how football, as a current dynamic component of culture may be a determiner of cultural identities.

Paper long abstract:

Football is the most popular game in the world. Simplicity of the game makes it easier to be popular, but on the other side, the main reason behind its global popularity is its promise of identities. Especially in the postmodern age, underestimating the boundaries of time and space, this popularity becomes one even more crucial for daily life. Bosnia and Herzegovina is as a country where cultural dynamics are bind to ethnic differences. However, on the other side there are different dynamics which may be effective on cultural differentiation. One of them might be argued as football fandom.

Although ethnicity plays a crucial role in Bosnian football rivalries, urban-rural (Sarajlija-Palanka) rivalries shall also be considered. On the other side, some rivalries are free of any other identity backgrounds, which do have implicit cultural dynamics stemmed from the very nature of football fandom itself. One of the most well known rivalries in Bosnian football is recognized as that of between the fans of Sarajevo and Zeljeznicar, although their fans are recognized as mostly comprised of Bosnian Muslims. The historical rivalry between those two fan groups is effective on establishment of cultural differentiation on different levels. This paper will simply try to show those different levels referring to the ethnographical study conducted with fans of both football clubs.

Panel W007
Staging sport and celebration: the power of play