Judging by the number of fans, football is by far the most popular sport in the world, with no less than 3.5 billion estimated fans around the world. And considering the sport’s long and glorious history, its huge fanbase seems to also go beyond concepts like race, language, age, and gender. Actually, we can safely say that a vast and diverse football fan culture has emerged.
Besides going to matches to support their favourite teams, wearing their garb, cheering for them and experiencing all kind of emotions when the team wins or loses, a lot of football fans also like gambling, so betting on games has also become a part of the football fan culture.
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In more countries than not, football has ingrained itself into the national culture and fans have developed a sense of emotional investment and even ownership over a football club. As a result, many parts of their life revolve around football and the way fans engage with their teams has changed compared to years ago.
Fan activism is very noticeable nowadays, as passionate fans no longer passively accept how their club is run, but rather struggle to get involved and shape the direction of their clubs by campaigning for change when the need arises. A good example in this regard is a situation that happened in 2016, when thousands of Liverpool fans walked out of their football match against Sunderland in protest to the decision to increase ticket prices.
Big football organisations, on the other hand, do encourage fan involvement in the sport. In England, for instance, there is the Premier League Fan Panel, a thriving community open to football supporters who want to express their views on a range of issues that affect the Premier League. In return for participating in surveys, fans are offered a range of prizes, including match tickets.
Additionally, ardent football fans have a sharp sense of self-identification with their teams, and proof is that they tend to be more prone to dress in their favourite team’s uniform, or at least their colours, than do fans of other sports. They will wear jerseys, hats, and almost any other clothing item with the team logo no matter how poorly their team performs, because football players will still remain their heroes, no matter the result of a match.
Actually, football players – especially in the top levels of the game – have become role models for people, and that’s why fans closely identify with their team. The power of the football fun culture is so strong that people actually feel better about themselves the day after their team is victorious. They use to say “we” won, although personally, they didn’t win anything.