Understanding Fandom in the Multilingual Internet: A Study of “El Clásico” Fans’ Commenting Behavior on YouTube

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Teresa Gil-Lopez University of California, Davis, USA

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Saifuddin Ahmed University of California, Davis, USA

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Laramie D. Taylor University of California, Davis, USA

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“El Clásico,” the soccer competition between Real Madrid and Barcelona FC, is one of the most fervent events in Spanish popular culture. Over the years, the related fandom has acquired an increasingly global reach, in part due to the availability of Web 2.0 technologies that allow for the sharing of content and the creation of multilingual spaces for discussion. The structural and communicative affordances of Web 2.0 technologies allow scholars to investigate multilingual fandom irrespective of geopolitical boundaries; yet scholarly research on such soccer fandom behavior is limited. By analyzing 2,343 Spanish and English fan-posted comments on YouTube related to El Clásico, this study compares the similarities and differences between 2 distinct fan communities surrounding the same context. The findings indicate that, aside from some similarities, both communities differed in their degree of identification with teams and the presence of political references. Implications of the findings and limitations of the study are discussed.

Gil-Lopez and Ahmed are doctoral candidates, and Taylor, their advisor, in the Dept. of Communication, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA.

Address author correspondence to Teresa Gil-Lopez at tgillopez@ucdavis.edu
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