“I Just Couldn’t Believe I Was There”: An Exploration of Soccer Pilgrimage

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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This work explores the phenomenon of soccer pilgrimage (i.e., international travel by U.S.-based supporters to matches and stadia in Europe). A purposive sample of 67 pilgrims who supported a variety of clubs participated. Respondents completed a survey questionnaire designed to inquire about their experience, including why they undertook pilgrimages, how they felt about them, their reaction to having completed pilgrimages, and how they described the experience to others when asked about it. A constant comparative analysis revealed that respondents socially constructed the social atmosphere, the sacred nature, and the authenticating capacity of soccer pilgrimages. Overall, soccer pilgrimage represents a form of secular pilgrimage defined by sociality, sacrality, and liminality.

Kassing is with the School of Social & Behavioral Sciences, and Nyaupane, Barrett, The Honors College, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ.

Kassing (jkassing@asu.edu) is corresponding author.
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