Football “fanship” and identities
Football fans and their slogans as creators of
political and transculturalism identities
The case of Aris FC Thessaloniki.
Papoutzis Lazaros, Physical Education and Sports Teacher, MSc in
Cultural Studies: Semiotics, Undergraduate Student in Early Childhood
Education, University of Western Macedonia
Michailidis Ilias, Physical Education and Sports Teacher, MSc in Cultural
Studies: Semiotics, University of Western Macedonia
Kyridis Argyris, Professor, Sociologist, University of Western Macedonia
Fotopoulos Nikos, Lecturer, Sociology of Culture, University of Western
In the domain of cultural studies, we focus on the sociology of sports and
fanship (Brown,1998) as it is represented on the logos of fan clubs of
Aris FC Thessaloniki.
In specific we are interested in the cultural perception of icons-symbols
and linguistic messages in slogans, produced by the fans.
Amongst Gelder’s six key way proposal in which subcultures can be
identified, we use in order to interpret the corpus:
• those that refer to the negative relations to work/class
• the association with territory, rather than property
• the refusal of the banalities of ordinary life and massification (Gelder
Culture and Cultural Studies
• In an effort for a definition of culture and its content,
Williams (1958) argues that this refers to both the
symbolic and the material scope.
• The cultural studies understand culture as a way of
life, ideas, attitudes, languages and a range of
cultural practices, texts, uniforms, architecture.
Social identities
• The procedure of shaping the social identity is based on
the molding process of social knowledge and attitude
• Identity is a product of contact and not of isolation
• When a person starts to be recognized as a member of a
group and not another for him/her and the team members
but also for the members of other groups, acquires
• We should think of identity as a “production”, which is
never complete, always in process and always
constituted within, not outside, representation (Hall,
Football and identities
• Football is a powerful catalyst for social identities. Football teams
and matches are usually a primary motivating factor for assertion
and celebration of various identities, whether they be local,
religious, ethnic, professional etc.
• Football condenses, like the best drama plays, the main themes of
our times (Bromberger C. , 1993). Football teams and fan clubs
represent something, some identity, some positive identification vs
to many others, in a extremely expressive way.
• Hall and Du Gay (1996:4) consider that identities are mainly
connected to the way people use historical, discursive and cultural
resources. Attention is invested in the social representations of
identity, the “narrativisation of the self”.
Fans and Citizenship
Fans are individuals and have individual rights - but these rights are not
invariable, and their citizenship constructs itself around groups of people
with specific cultures and histories.
Citizenship involves itself in a multilogical discussion allowing different ways
of thinking to be synthesized, modified and adjust, as part of a dynamic work
in progress.
As citizenship is a public identity it involves interest in different issues and it
takes place in different social environments.
Thus the discussion for the civic condition can take place in the expression
of the fan identity as part of the every-day life.
The aim
• In this context we try to find the common
elements among the fan-identity and the
active citizenship for young people.
• We focus on the transculturalism identities
as they appear through the symbols and
the representations young people choose.
• We apply the socio-semiotic analysis (Kress, 1996)
in order to de-construct the references to new
identities and transculturalism.
• As far as it concerns to the linguistic messages,
content analysis is used applying the quantitative
thematic methodology.
The Data
• The total sample consists of 79 fan stickers
and 100 fan slogans, taken from ARIS fan
clubs (1988-2010).
• Amongst them there are 25 fan stickers and
15 slogans containing political references
about citizenship and transculturalism.
A fan slogan
«Fans are allover earth…you cannot put ideals in
In red color we can see the identity-name of the fan club
Fan slogan analysis
• The linguistic material can be analyzed following the
method of R. Barthes on the denotation and connotation
to the use of words and production of myths.
Followers of a sub-group of a subculture, as defined by
the dominant culture, the slogan language (e.g, ibid)
identified themselves as the dominant group, because
"there throughout the Earth”, so it seems to claim the
majority and the universality .
• The fan clubs are recruited within the meaning and
political terminology of 'ideals‘ which are not imprisoned
and so obtain the identity:
all over Earth
Fan sticker semiotic analysis
• The tawny backround (black-yellow) means the official colors of Aris
F.C and the red-colored letters link to the official colors of Aris fan
clubs (Super 3). The crowd of fans have their hands raised,
especially the left fist which indicates rebellion and opposition.
• The black flags and fists together, mean political demonstration.
• In the subtitle, the colors which are selected reflect the fans’ identity
of the specific territories (Neapoli – Sykies).
• The Bulldog as symbol of the fan club declares and indicates the
• The composition-scenario resulting from the perceived image
horizontally and spatially registered in three parallel horizontal
bands: a (linguistic hypertitle) + b (crowd design ) + c (lingual
subtitle + indicator) => composition.
• Syntactically, the central information is given in the center (b)
with variables (Hayes, N. 1998) color
and gesture, which mean the political-revolutionary identity of
the fans vs the indicator-Bulldog.
• In this case we can “read” an active dimension of citizenship + fans
identity + action.
As shown by the high rate of virtuality of this image as a sign, fans
identity to the c (spatial axis) is involved with the youthful, revolutionary
identity on the b (horizontal axis) in a common field of youth
subculture, as defined by the British School and the Cultural Studies.
On the contrary, on the linguistic sign we read in specific the fan
identity-culture with block letters: REVENGE AND FIGHT as an
incentive to attack.
The subtitle-visual message indicates the athletic determination of the
fan club.
In particular, the use of symbols and algorithmic functions – in relation
to the captions, which associate fan slogans, resulting scenarios and
actions that recruit and read about the emphasis given to sociopolitical references.
• As it appears, young people tend to construct their fan
identity through the post-modern perception of citizenship.
• Many signifiers have been found about the youth
demonstration against government’s, police’s and fascism’s
• The youth’s new identity is revealed through inter-cultural
symbolism: “ A.C.A.B. (All Caps Are Bastards) ” and
aggressive icons typically produced by anarchist, socialistic,
young people.
• It seems that even in the context of sports subcultures
young students need to produce discourses versus the
majority of adult’s established power as Foucault (1966)
had already determined.
Thank you for your attention

Football “fan-ship” and identities. Football fans and