The Genesis of Team Rivalry in the New World: Sparks to Fan Animosity in Major League Soccer
Soccer & Society, Forthcoming
16 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2018
Date Written: 2018
While rivalry debates rage among soccer fans and the media, scholars have focused much of their research on clashes between specific clubs that share a considerable history of competition. Yet, historical conflict is just one of several elements that contribute to enduring sports rivalries, and several soccer teams — particularly in America and Canada — have limited history but salient rivals. This study compares the intensity of rivalries within Major League Soccer through a league-wide fan survey that also measures the importance of eleven antecedents to rivalry and how these elements are associated with fans' negative reactions to rivals. While geography and frequency of play are the two most important rivalry antecedents according to fans, elements of bias such as cultural difference and unfairness are more closely associated with fans' schadenfreude and relationship discrimination against rivals. Quotes from fans aligned with the most intense rivalries in MLS illustrate these findings.
Keywords: Rivalry, Derby, Schadenfreude, Football, Major League Soccer, Fan Violence
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