Back to the future: an ethnography of Ireland's football fans at the 1994 World Cup finals in the USA

2014-08-12T13:53:29Z (GMT) by Richard Giulianotti
This article examines from an ethnographic perspective Irish soccer fan activities at the 1994 World Cup Finals in the United States. An introductory discussion notes the limited previous study of Irish soccer fans, and critically assesses the relationship of Irish nationalism to sport. The activities of Irish fans are then examined in relation to their siting in New York and Orlando; the minimal level of sectarian/republican politics imbuing their supporter culture; their numerical prevalence at the tournament, in the light of reported ticket scarcities; the absence of football hooliganism at USA '94; and the interaction of Irish fans with other supporter cultures, 'carnival' fans and otherwise. The relative youth of Irish soccer culture is noted, and its impact upon the limited levels of fan participation and organization at matches. However, the concluding observations point out to four areas in which Irish supporter identities display some forms of maturation: internal fan criticisms of the team's style; critical commentaries on the tournament's organization; effective instances of evading profiteering during the tournament; and, most importantly, how the soccer culture helps to promote a fresh sense of Irish identity, as beyond nation-state boundaries or territorial claims.