Jennifer Amann, Loughborough University

Extra time: Scoring pro-environmental last-minute goals through mobilising football fans on climate change

This project is trying to understand German football fans’ perspectives of climate change and whether they have already mobilised around environmental issues. This follows calls for innovative strategies to engage existing communities on the topic to increase the acceptance for deeper societal transformations necessary to limit global warming. Utilising a case study design, the focus of this project is on fans of a German Bundesliga club and will apply a mixed-method approach consisting of surveys, qualitative interviews, and participant observation. The surveys will provide an overview of fans’ understanding of and attitude towards climate change and climate action, as well as characteristics of their fandom. To get a deeper understanding, this will be complemented by qualitative interviews with fans, club officials and participant observations.

This project argues that from the perspective of mobilizing large parts of society for climate change, football fans represent a promising yet hardly explored collective. Not only are football fan groups captivating by their sheer numbers, but football, like no other social phenomenon, manages to unite people from the most diverse backgrounds on a regular basis – including people who do not feel represented by previous environmental campaigns – who can become multipliers in other networks they are part of.

The aim of the project is to understand how football fans as a non-environmental movement mobilise on climate change and what implications for social transformation more generally can be derived from this. Thereby, the project is guided by the following questions:

1)    Do football fans mobilise around climate change?
2)    If so, how do they mobilise and how does this relate to other environmental social movements?
3)    What structural factors are required to support fans in tackling climate change?