The specific social and cultural role that football plays in any given country, however, is heavily influenced by historical factors.
These include whether a major side or national team has won an important tournament at a decisive time in the past or whether the sport was traditionally played by upper or lower classes.
In our discussions with fans there was a defiant stance against 'fair-weather supporters' — those who only attend matches occasionally or when their team is doing well.
Such fans lack dedication and resilience and the detailed knowledge of team statistics, standings, players and history that is characteristic of 'true' fans.
The Football Passions report summarises extensive sociological research across 18 countries in Europe.
The objectives of the study were to capture the emotions of being a football fan and to compare the feelings, expressions and behaviour of fans associated with support of their football teams.— that motivates the team, intimidates the opposition players and perhaps even influences referees' decisions.The fans truly believe they must attend the game to 'help the team to win', not just to observe the event.Attending away games is an important ritual for fans involving a number of psychological and logistical challenges.Away supporters are always out-numbered and mostly out-sung.Football fandom is seen as a rite of passage involving a process akin to apprenticeship.It involves years of instruction, of 'practice', of dedication and of demonstrating your own knowledge in the presence of others before being accepted by 'real' fans.In addition to the actions performed in the stadiums during the match, pre- and post-game rituals are important in creating a sense of community among fans.From meeting up with other fans for a drink before and after the game to the orchestrated coordination of fabric squares to make up a larger banner, rituals foster a strong sense of belonging to the fan group.It is not about being a mere spectator — it is about being a participant.Match attendance is a given, of course, but there is also a duty to engage emotionally in the life of the team in order to impact positively on a team's performance.