This paper investigates alcohol consumption within cultures of football fandom through the innovative combination of theories of the carnivalesque and Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, field, and capital.
Focus groups (n = 79) were conducted with football supporters in England and Scotland. Semi-structured interviews (n = 15) were also conducted with key organizational stakeholders. Research explored the importance and role of alcohol consumption for supporters when watching or attending matches..
Participants confirmed the cultural significance, perceived normalcy and historical links between football and alcohol consumption. Supporters highlighted the importance of the sociability, friendship, and social capital aspects of alcohol consumption. Participants believed football supporters are perceived differently in comparison with supporters of other sports, arguing that legislation surrounding alcohol consumption at other sports allowed supporters to enhance the carnivalesque by drinking alcohol, whereas football fans were more restricted. Participants agreed the habitus of excessive drinking and violence associated with football supporters led to a bad reputation, however, this view was outdated. Participants also recognized a growing drug culture in football.
The findings draw attention to the alcohol-sport relationship and the contested relations, and diverging interests and influences, within the social field of football.
KEYWORDS: Alcohol use; football supporters cocaine; social bonding; Bourdieu; carnivalesque