In looking over the news from the FA Cup, I came across an example of what I hope to find in my field research.
An article from the Telegraph has a story about a fight that broke out among Arsenal supporters at the Brighton and Hove Albion v. Arsenal FA Cup tie. The fight broke out when the match was tied 2-2 and one group of Arsenal fans unfurled a banner saying, “Arsene, thanks for the memories, but it’s time to say goodbye.” Another group told them to put it away, and a fight broke out within the Arsenal supporters section.
This is exactly what I want to find out about. What sort of self-policing do the supporters groups have? What sort of conflicts happen between members of different fan groups? How do they negotiate space in away sections, which probably have a more random ticketing situation than the season ticket holder sections at Emirates (in Arsenal’s case)?
Clearly in this case, the group with the banner wasn’t appreciated, and dealt with by the other supporters present. By the end of the match the Arsenal section (Arsenal won 3-2) was chanting, “One Arsene Wenger.” So not only was there a violent reaction against the banner, but then the supporters then felt the need to declare their support for the manager following the incident (and once the game was safely theirs again).
It’s stories like this that let me know I’m on the right track.