Loughborough University
Football and the Politics of Carnival - An Ethnographic Study of Scottish Fans in Sweden.pdf (845.11 kB)

Football and the politics of carnival: an ethnographic study of Scottish fans in Sweden

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-08-13, 07:43 authored by Richard GiulianottiRichard Giulianotti
At football's 1992 European Championship Finals in Sweden, the 5,000 Scottish fans ('The Tartan Army') attending, won the UEFA 'Fair Play' award for their friendly and sporting conduct. The award appears to be the culmination of a major 'change' in the international identity of the Scottish supporter over the last two decades. However, as this paper seeks to demonstrate, the nature of Scottish support's behaviour and cultural identity is the subject of strong contestation among the Scottish football and policing authorities, the media and the supporters themselves. In the first part of the paper, the socio-historical and logistical background to the tournament is outlined. Key issues her relate to whether the fans accept the 'official' position that their behaviour and outlook has changed significantly, and what significance may be ascribed to 'anti-hooligan' legislation. The conflict may partly be explained by the auhorities' and fans' differing definitions of the supporters' social 'carnival' at matchs, and whether this is considered to be ritualised (safe) or excessive (potentially disorderly). The second half of the paper chronicles, through participant observation and interview research, the social performances and discourses of the Scottish supporters during the Swedish tournament. Internal divisions are noted, relating to region, domestic club affiliation, age, and social class/wealth; these are gradually overcome through collectivisation, around shared attitudes of sociable drinking, anti-Englishness, masculine identity and gregarious fandom. Also highlighted is the symbolic battle for control over the representation of the fans' identity and behaviour, between media, fans and the authorities. The paper concludes by noting that this conflict has continued beyond the tournament, through the authorities' recolonising of the fans' victorious identity, and the media's challenge to their sportsmanship in defeat.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

International Review for the Sociology of Sport






191 - 220


GIULIANOTTI, R., 1995. Football and the politics of carnival: an ethnographic study of Scottish fans in Sweden. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 30 (2), pp. 191-220.




  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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