Political Activism in Sports - A Reason to Stop Watching Games? An Analysis of Fan Data during the 2017/18 Season in Spain in the Context of Catalan Teams' Involvement in the Referendum on Indepence

Andrea Claudio Labitzke

Studenteropgave: Kandidatafhandlinger


Sports figures and teams have historically shied away from getting involved in political conflicts. If ever actors from the sports world involve themselves in political discussions, they risk facing harsh backlashes by the media and fans. This thesis investigates how Spanish fans changed their game consumption due to Catalan football teams' political involvement speaking up in the process of the Catalan referendum on independence in 2017. Based on current theory, it is hypothesized that political comments by clubs generally lead to lower consumption of games. To best study potential effects, an explanatory sequential mixed method research design is applied. First, this data on game attendance and views of highlight videos are analyzed with statistical regression methods. The results of the quantitative analysis suggest that there is limited statistical proof of an effects of political statements on fans’ consumption behavior. Only when home-teams make a political statement, the stadium attendance for subsequent games decreases slightly. In a second step, FC Barcelona’s case is further analyzed in a case study based on the theoretical basis of Corporate Sociopolitical Activism (CSA). The qualitative case study focuses on understanding Spanish football fans’ and FC Barcelona fans’ ideological attitudes towards mixing politics and sports and the inferred motivation behind FC Barcelona’s political statements. The case study suggests that Spanish and FC Barcelona fans being accustomed to mixing sports and politics and the motivation for the club’s statements offer a viable explanation of fans’ non-reaction to political statements. The thesis concludes that it is difficult to generalize the obtained results. Fan reactions to political involvement of clubs might differ in other cases. Further academic research on this understudied topic is required.

UddannelserCand.merc.pol International Business and Politics, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling
Antal sider97
VejledereJoachim Lund