Discursive approaches to Europe usually focus on elite discourses and target a narrow political understanding of Europe. Against the backdrop of rising Euroscepticism and the known elite-mass divide on issues of European identity, it seems important to shift the focus toward non-elite discourses on Europe. Given that club football is largely Europeanised (player markets, continent-wide club competitions and broadcasting of matches), we analyse how fans of the English Premier League club Manchester United discursively construct ‘Europe’ in relation to their sport. Our main research question aims at identifying how identifications of fans have been unconsciously Europeanised in the wake of an ongoing Europeanisation of the game. We explore online discourses on rivalry, competition and player transfers in club football as these areas are strongly influenced by the interplay of national and European inclinations. Preliminary results of our qualitative content analysis demonstrate that Manchester United fans, inasmuch as their club ‘goes Europe’ on a frequent basis, have developed transnational perspectives on football. Distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them’ are not predominantly based on nationality, even though they remain complex. However, European orientations (not the European Union as such) seem to play more of a prominent role than commonly assumed.
Europeanisation, European identity, football, lifeworld, England
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