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Football team identification in Norway: spectators of local and national football matches

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Football spectators (N=760) at two local and two international matches were surveyed with the aim of investigating how identity is created and sustained in relation to top-level sport in general, and local and national football teams in particular. Two-way between-groups analyses of variance were applied, and effect sizes calculated. There was a statistically significant main effect for gender, showing that male spectators identify more strongly with their favourite team than female spectators. The findings also include an interaction effect between gender and level of matches, indicating different effects on male and female spectators. Male spectators identify more strongly with the national team than the local team, whereas female spectators identify more strongly with the local team. Strong identification with the national team goes together with more positive attitudes towards the nation. The results are analysed within the theoretical framework of social identity theory (SIT) and self-categorization theory (SCT). Team identification is context-dependent and partly explained with reference to the principle of meta-contrast implied in SCT. Positive attitudes towards the nation are interpreted as beneficial from a nation-building point of view, but have possible negative consequences concerning the evaluation of social groups not included in the in-group.
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Keywords: football; national identity; nationalism; social categorization theory; social identity theory; spectators; team identification

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology and Political Science – Sport Science, Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway 2: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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