Abstract Football is a key site for local pride to be enacted by fans through the celebration of local dialects and local myths. At the same time, sport industries are currently undergoing major transformations and becoming global, professional and profit-oriented. Consequently, pride in a place is not solely the property of the given area or its inhabitants. Indeed, fandom is increasingly enacted by new groups who speak different languages and live in other places, and who thus cross borders to consume local fan practices and tokens of imagined local authenticity. Furthermore, football clubs are increasingly owned by multinational investors who employ international and multilingual football workers. Meanwhile, nostalgic adherents of so-called traditional football frequently interpret the emergence of these transnational actors as a corruption of this sport. The presence of such transnational actors raises questions regarding the challenges encountered by these new speakers when they produce and consume cultural resources that are widely perceived to be not only the commodities sold by the football industry but also tokens of local authenticity. Drawing on an ethnography conducted in the stadium of the FC Basel in Switzerland, I discuss the case of two transnational actors who are identified as new speakers of Basel’s local dialect and of standard German, both codes being specifically associated with being a legitimate fan or coach of FC Basel. In discussing the challenges faced by these new speakers during their encounters with FC Basel as a commercial product, I examine how these individuals have constructed their legitimacy as members of FC Basel’s imagined community and analyze how, why, and by whom this legitimacy is given or contested.
Applied Linguistics Review – de Gruyter
Published: Jun 1, 2015