Matthew Zimmerman and Lauren Burch
Travis R. Bell
Mark E. Moore
Jeffrey W. Kassing and Pratik Nyaupane
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.
Mathieu Winand, Matthew Belot, Sebastian Merten and Dimitrios Kolyperas
This study aimed to analyze the way Twitter is used by international sport federations (ISFs) to interact and engage with their followers. A content analysis of 5,389 online messages tweeted by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) using NVivo qualitative data-analysis software was conducted between August 2014 and January 2015. Results suggest that FIFA does not use Twitter to its full potential, mainly sharing 1-way information rather than engaging to a greater level with its followers. The research highlights the importance of effectively using Twitter as a potential powerful communication tool for ISFs, which are understood as meta-organizations whose members are organizations themselves. Communicating about social development and engaging followers, including their affiliated national sport associations, could potentially increase ISFs’ reputation and build trust among followers and stakeholders.
Lauren Burch, Matthew Zimmerman and Beth Fielding Lloyd
Velina B. Brackebusch
Jeffrey W. Kassing
Football Club Barcelona represents a successful modern sport entity with global influence and a celebrated past. It also has an undeniable connection to the region of Catalonia and has become in many ways a vehicle mobilized in the resurgent movement to seek Catalan independence from Spain. This case study considers how the strong and lasting link with Catalonia coupled with the club’s strategically ambiguous “mes que un club” (more than a club) motto combined to place the club in the difficult position of deciding to play a game in an empty stadium. The action, intended to be symbolic, proved questionable given the assorted stakeholders affected by the decision.