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Football fandom, reflexivity and social change (FANSREF)
Start date: Oct 7, 2013, End date: Oct 6, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This research project will analyse the processes of social transformation surrounding the introduction of Supporter Liaison Officers (SLOs) by football clubs in Europe. The compulsory introduction of SLOs from the 2012/2013 football season onwards is mandated by Union of European Football Associations regulations, and is underpinned by EU policies. The main function of SLOs is to mediate and to improve the relationships between football clubs and their fans. The introduction of SLOs represents a new and formal recognition of the civic engagement of fans; it is also a significant milestone in the political, social and cultural development of football, which represents one of Europe’s most important and popular spheres of social and cultural life. This project will take advantage of this timely opportunity in order to achieve the following objectives:1) to analyse the impact of the transnational introduction of SLOs across different fan cultures, and to explore the reflexive discourses of football fans with respect to this development2) to investigate the socio-cultural processes connected with the introduction of SLOs within European clubs and to examine the impact of fans’ civic engagement on the SLOs3) to examine the role of policy-makers and sport governing bodies in these processes4) to utilize the findings from this research in order to enhance social scientific understanding of the relationships between reflexivity and social changeThe research will combine qualitative and quantitative methodologies at European and national levels (the UK, Italy and the Czech Republic). The fellowship will be hosted by the world-renowned School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University and will greatly contribute to the professional and career development of the fellow through academic and complementary skills training. The research outputs will be disseminated to academic audiences, and also to public forums through a series of outreach activities.
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