The paper presents the details of how national/regional identities help Chinese people develop the fandom for their national and local football teams. The national and local emotional attachments motivate people to develop football fandom. However, two concerns – China’s different geographic, cultural, ethnic and religious contexts and non-native fans – require the details of these two social identities in the process of fans’ self-identification. The study selects fans of Henan Jianye Football Club and Shenzhen Football Club as cases to study, as these fans can typically represent local and migrant fans throughout China. By combining the experiences of these two different groups of fans, the paper explores that the national identity can be highly triggered when football fans interact with the team’s key games, such as the 2002 World Cups, and immerse in an atmosphere of respecting the national team. In these scenarios, the national identity can enhance fans’ support for the national team and attract new fans. It also reveals that fans’ recognition of their teams’ local symbolic status and the influence of other native people can stimulate fans’ local identity, which helps local fans attain and maintain the fandom for local football clubs. However, place attachment cannot help migrants support football clubs in their immediate places unless these people intend to develop an affinity with the local community. Otherwise, the beginning of these fans’ support for local football clubs is related to the team’s reputation and the atmosphere in the stadium.
Lecture in Sport Management, School of Health and Sport Sciences, Liverpool Hope University, Lancashire, United Kingdom
Football fandom, China, National identity, Local identity
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