Accepted paper:

Globalised sport and moral obligation

Authors:

Keir Martin (University of Oslo)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the relationship between football clubs and supporters as a contest over the limits of reciprocal obligation drawing on Mauss' analysis of the gift.

Paper long abstract:

Football as mass spectator sport has always been a commercial enterprise, yet the relationship between clubs and supporters is unlike those between other capitalist enterprises and their customers. Clubs form a considerable part of their supporters' cultural identity, and the emotion invested by supporters in their clubs creates, in the eyes of many, the implicit promise of mutual moral obligation that transcends a simple transactive relation. Yet there remains a tension between the commercial and the other cultural aspects of this relation. For long periods this tension may remain muted, but the emergence of international investors in the 2000s has brought these tensions once again to the fore. The high profile takeovers of Liverpool FC and Manchester United were fraught with tensions between owners and fans. Similar problems can be seen elsewhere. This paper explores the relationship between football clubs and supporters as a contest over the limits of reciprocal obligation drawing on Mauss' analysis of the gift.

panel G24
The anthropology of sport in a changing world