The rite stuff: Fans’ relationship with football as seen through the lens of magic The Football and Society Podcast

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Watching football games being played behind closed doors lately has highlighted how important supporters are in creating that unique atmosphere on a matchday. But have you ever thought of supporters as ‘magicians’?

This is the view proposed by Katarzyna Herd who has explored the practice of magic among Swedish football supporters.

Katarzyna’s work builds on the notion of ‘magic’ as described by the French sociologist Marcel Mauss, who defined magic as a means of creating a socially constructed space, in which certain rites are performed to foster a collective belief in the power of these practices to influence events.

Drawing on her experience attending games with the radical supporters of Malmö, Katarzyna argues that the core elements of magic as Mauss describes it are present at matches with the most radical fans engaging in behaviour considered taboo by other supporters (boisterous chanting, lighting flares, and displaying aggression towards the opposition).

How essential is suffering to being a football fan?
Does supporters’ magic operate in the same way in a virtual space online, or is it only present in the ground itself?
Are football’s magical elements reduced in corporate football cultures such as in the English Premier League?

...all this and more in the sixth episode of the Football and Society podcast.
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