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University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia


The paper argues that in the contemporary world, politics and football, especially professional football, are closely connected. This interplay is often expressed through a strong presence of nationalism, both as ideology and political practice in the social fields where football and politics overlap. Since Croatia gained its independence, it has been among the countries where many protagonists of the most popular sport and politics are linked by a strong bond. That bond is strongly marked by various shapes of nationalism, from collective perception of the national team as an ideal symbol of the young nation and frequent overstatements of its connection with the nation made by many sympathizers and protagonists of football in Croatia, to chauvinist and politically extremist behaviour of one part of the fans. The essential research question is what the prevalent causes and patterns of use and abuse of nationalism in contemporary Croatian football are. The paper displays the results based on the triangulation of various research methods, particularly the ones that lead to relevant data on the complex and diverse (objective, subjective, and constructed) experience of nationalism among the organized fans in Croatia, to observing and participating, talking with fan club members, to exploring media production and political communication pertinent to this topic.


Football, Nationalisms, Chauvinism, Fans

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