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Football in Croatia: fandom in Zagreb

Updated: May 5

Interested in football in Croatia? I published a book on Croatian football fans and the subcultural scene in Zagreb, Croatia.

It compares NK Dinamo’s fan group, the Bad Blue Boys, with a small, left-wing group named White Angels Zagreb who followed another Zagreb club, NK Zagreb.

Two people in front of the White Angels Zagreb banner at a music night. The banner says White Angels Zagreb and shows a football kicking a swastika.

The Bad Blue Boys were founded in 1986, and the White Angels, sometime around the year 2000. If you’re interested in hooligans or ultras culture in football, or keen to learn more, then read on!

The book covers football fandom in Croatia from a fan perspective. It looks at the history, politics, and culture of these two fan groups.

Football in Croatia: fan issues

Issues like gender, sexuality, and violence crop up. As do the 1990s wars that affected Croatia, through to the post-socialist “transition,” and the rise of crony capitalism.

Masculinities are such a big, and often problematic, part of football, and they also figure in how fans build social relationships with other fans and authority figures.

There’s also material on political and subcultural hierarchies, state and police violence, state building and the European Union as a political and cultural influence.

Using ethnography to study football fandom in Croatia

I use a method called ethnography to follow the everyday practices of the fan groups and fans’ relationships with the police, club management, state authorities and other fan groups.

This involves spending lots of time with a social group, keeping a diary of everything you experience, and then reflecting on that experience and the diary observations later on. The aim is to gain insights into what this group finds important.

More generally, my book researchers what impact football fans in Croatia can have on wider social and political transformations.

More recently, I’ve written about the Demons (NK Istra 1961) as well.

What next?

I no longer work as a cultural anthropologist, but one of the big questions this book tries to answer is “what is a group?”

I still love to discuss these topics and this question lies at the heart of my new course on cultural, social, and political worldbuilding.

A marauder's map (pirate style) of the Zagreb neighbourhoods.

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