‘We Were Brothers and Sisters’ - Lotman’s Semiotics of Culture on the Antagonism among Shanghai Football Fans


Using Juri Lotman’s Semiotics of Culture theory as the umbrella, this study explores the cultural connection between two Shanghai football fandom groups and Shanghai city. Currently, there are two professional football clubs, the Shanghai SIPG football club and the Shanghai Shenhua football club, in the Shanghai city qualifying in the Chinese Super League. As the first professional football club in Shanghai, Shenhua was supported by all Shanghai fans in 1994 and recognised as the symbol of Shanghai. The appearance of SIPG in 2005 also attracted Shenhua fans’ support. However, along with its promotion in Chinese professional football leagues, SIPG has gradually developed its loyal fans who terminate their fandom for Shenhua and develop a sense of hostility against their original fandom community. The extreme rivalry eventually results in two different fan cultures representing Shanghai culture respectively. This article proves that the historical accumulation of Shanghai people’s social practices from the age of colonialism to the global city is the foundation causing the rivalry. This may help the development of the Shanghai football context by offering solutions to moderate the antagonism. It is also the pioneer of using Lotman’s theory to explain a phenomenon in Chinese football.


Congcong Qi
Student, Master Degree, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

Kaixiao Jiang
Lecture in Sport Management, School of Health and Sport Sciences, Liverpool Hope University, Lancashire, United Kingdom


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—The Impact of Professional Sport on Community


Shanghai style football, Cultural symbols, Cultural identity, Fans

Digital Media

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