Contesting love through commodification

Soccer fans, affect, and social class in Turkey

by YAĞMUR NUHRAT

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Soccer in Turkey has in recent decades become increasingly commodified. This process has been reinforced by a national law passed in 2011 that promises to prevent violence in the stands and “civilize” fandom. For upper‐middle‐class fans, the new “cleaned‐up” version of soccer secures class distinction, but among less affluent and working‐class fans, it has inspired resistance. Class conflict is here indexed through contestations over what it means to be a true fan and especially the quality of one's love for the team. Working‐class fans often describe their love as maddening or self‐sacrificing, while more affluent fans, sponsors, and administrators associate love with consumption. In the context of increasing political repression, fan resistance to commodification is discursively entangled with love and violence.

Two fans wearing customized jerseys at a soccer game in Istanbul. The red one reads “Our love is true and deep.” The white one reads “Yo! I am in love with you.” Above the inscriptions is the logo of the team's corporate sponsor, Ülker, a food manufacturer.
Two fans wearing customized jerseys at a soccer game in Istanbul. The red one reads “Our love is true and deep.” The white one reads “Yo! I am in love with you.” Above the inscriptions is the logo of the team's corporate sponsor, Ülker, a food manufacturer. (Yağmur Nuhrat. September 27, 2015.)