Czech football fan community: women’s attitudes to unsporting behavior

Associate Professor P. Scholz
Polytechnic College, Jihlava, Czech Republic

Keywords: football, questionnaire survey, football fan community, bigotry, ungentlemanly conduct, unsporting behavior, violence.

Background. For the last few decades football has evolved into the top-attractive social sports phenomenon that brings great emotional experiences for spectators; with its socio-psychological aspects including, first of all, motivations, pride, expectations and reactions of the fan community to specific game situations. The sports is fraught, however, with ungentlemanly conduct and unsporting behavior that are often fueled by unhealthy interest from mass media organizations and some political and social groups [3]. In the Czech Republic the football support movement is on the rise although it should be confessed that it is still stained by hooliganism and unsporting behaviors [9].

Modern sociologists generally classify the football fan community into passive spectators, classic fans, hooligans and ultras [7] as follows:

(a) Passive spectators is the group generally indifferent to the both competing teams and, hence, basically neutral [2, 6];

(b) Classical fans that come to football matches on a habitual basis and have some personal connections to the local football club being mostly the local residents. Their support culture is driven by expressed competitive success expectations associated with the team courage, passion and highest sensitivity to the team successes and failures. Football is typically the only favorite sport for this category. Classical fans demonstrate their identity and fidelity mostly by signage and outfits including uniforms, scarves, etc. [5];

c) Hooligans, who tend to team up into dominantly youngster aggressive groups that visit football stadiums with the only purpose to provoke conflicts and fights with the opposing fan groups. It is not unusual for hooligans, in contrast to the fans, to demonstrate dedication to the group rather than the football club [1]; and

d) Ultras that are rather consolidated loyal fan groups that avoid direct conflicts, violence and vandalism and prioritize the support signage, choreographic elements, pyrotechnics, banners, vocal support etc. [4].

Objective of the study was to rate by a questionnare survey and analyze the female fans’ attitudes to usporting behavior in the Czech football.

Methods and structure of the study. The questionnaire survey was run in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 football seasons using the survey forms of 29 questions including a few Likert rating scales [8] to help the respondents rate their attitudes to unsporting behavior. Most of the questions were inclusive i.e. offering every possible response option. We sampled for the survey the 25.46±10.19 year-old fans (n= 720) including a 25.62±10.20 year old men’s group (n=592), 25.01±10.20 year old women’s group (n=120) and a gender-unspecified group (n=8). The sample reported to support every Slavia Praha FC match from their sector behind the goal.

Results and discussion. The Slavia Praha FC fan community is 20-26 year old on the whole and dominated by the 13-19 year-olds, plus more mature (34 year old on average) ultras group. The survey found 82% and 18% of the women’s fan group formally unmarried and married, respectively, i.e. inclined to postpone marriage; with 37% and 18% of the women reporting living with their parents or alone, respectively.

We also tested the education levels of the female fans as education is commonly ranked among the key factors of influence on the atmosphere at football stadiums. The survey found 9% and 9% of the women’s group having primary school education and secondary vocational education certificates, respectively; and only 55% of the women reported being employed as trainee lawyers, managers, teachers, civil servants, sales representatives etc. Furthermore, 64% and 36% of the women reported unhappy and happy with their lives, respectively. The individual economic standings were ranked good, satisfactory and unsatisfactory by 72%, 18% and 9% of the women sample, respectively. 

The women’s group ranked most negative the physical aggression to the police and hosts (91%), physical aggression to the rival fans (82%) and racism (73%) in football stands. We unexpectedly found only 64% of the women rating highly negative fights and damages to the stadium, whilst 91% of them rated whistling at the bottom of the classified unsporting behavior: see Table 1 hereunder.

 Table 1. Unsporting behavior ranked by severity by the women’s fan group, %

 Unsporting actions

1

2

3

4

5

Fires

27

9

27

0

36

Obscene songs in the stands

9

36

27

0

27

Individual obscene shouts

27

36

18

18

0

Aggression to the rival fans

0

0

0

18

82

Aggression to police and host

0

0

0

9

91

Agreed fights of the fans

0

0

9

55

36

Throwing things on the field

0

9

9

45

36

Vandalism on stadiums and mass fights

0

0

18

18

64

Racism

0

0

9

18

73

Offensive shouts

64

18

18

0

0

Running out to the field

18

0

18

45

18

Note: 1 negligible; 2 minor; 3 neutral; 4 serious 5 severe

Conclusion. Unsporting behavior on football stadiums raises growing concerns not only in the Czech football community, since violence and ungentlemanly conduct makes spectators feel uncomfortable and unprotected on the football stadiums. The Czech football community takes efforts to make the national football ‘more appealing product’ to help the local football culture grow into a healthy national cultural tradition – as is the case in England and some other Western countries.
 References
  1. Maresh M., Smolik Yu., Suchanek M. Football hooligans: the European dimension of subculture. Brno, Czech Republic: Center for Strategic Studies and Barrister & Principal, 2004.
  2. Oborny Y. Philosophy and Sport. Bratislava, Slovakia: Comenius University in Bratislava, 2015.
  3. Sekot A. Introduction to social pathology. Brno, Czech Republic: Masaryk University, 2010.
  4. Sekot A. Sport sociology: Actual Problems. Brno, Czech Republic: Masaryk University, 2013.
  5. Slepichka P. Sports spectacle. Prague, Czech Republic: Olympia publ., 1990.
  6. Slepitska P., Slepitskova I., Kotlik K., Landa P. Spectacular reflection of sports. Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic: Karolinum publ., 2010.
  7. Smolik J. Football hooliganism - history, theory and politicization of the phenomenon. Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic: Zdenek Plachi, 2008.
  8. Hebak P., Gustopetskiy Yu., Pechakova I. et al. Multivariate statistical methods. Prague: Informatoriy, 2007.
  9. Sholts P. Question about football spectators in the Czech Republic or “supporters of football Quo vaditis?” . Brno, Czech Republic: Paido publ., 2018.

Corresponding author: petr.scholz@vspj.cz

 Abstract

Objective of the study was to rate by a questionnare survey and analyze the female fans’ attitudes to usporting behavior in the Czech football.

Methods and structure of the study. The questionnaire survey was run in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 football seasons using the survey forms of 29 questions including a few Likert rating scales [8] to help the respondents rate their attitudes to unsporting behavior. Most of the questions were inclusive i.e. offering every possible response option. We sampled for the survey the 25.46±10.19 year-old fans (n= 720) including a 25.62±10.20 year old men’s group (n=592), 25.01±10.20 year old women’s group (n=120) and a gender-unspecified group (n=8). The sample reported to support every Slavia Praha FC match from their sector behind the goal.

Results and conclusions. The women’s group ranked most negative the physical aggression to the police and hosts (91%), physical aggression to the rival fans (82%) and racism (73%) in football stands. We unexpectedly found only 64% of the women rating highly negative fights and damages to the stadium, whilst 91% of them rated whistling at the bottom of the classified unsporting behavior.

Unsporting behavior on football stadiums raises growing concerns not only in the Czech football community, since violence and ungentlemanly conduct makes spectators feel uncomfortable and unprotected on the football stadiums. The Czech football community takes efforts to make the national football ‘more appealing product’ to help the local football culture grow into a healthy national cultural tradition – as is the case in England and some other Western countries.