Project Overview

For the first time, For the Love of the Game? brings together a wide network of stakeholders, creative practitioners, and interdisciplinary academics to explore the manifestation of hate crime in football, such as racism, sectarianism, religious- hate, gender-based violence, and homophobia. It is timely because Black Lives Matter has initiated reflection on the impact of racism in society. Also, hate crime has increased during previous pandemics (eg HIV) and is likely to continue and change following covid-19. Innovatively, the project seeks to understand the role of masculinity in the reproduction of hate crime in football. Whilst there has been a significant reduction in the verbal expression of hate crime in stadiums, this does not mean that the phenomenon has disappeared, particularly on social media or in grassroots matches. As a globally popular cultural leisure pursuit, football gives us a critical space to engage with a range of participants.

To understand these manifestations, this timely project will pursue four core objectives: (1) to develop interdisciplinary and impactful networks beyond football associations, leagues and clubs; (2) use this network to build knowledge of the manifestation of hate crime in football, and how it can be challenged; (3) centralise the role of masculinity in the reproduction of hate crime in football and how it can be confronted (4) use creative approaches to facilitate production and dissemination of this knowledge.

The focus of this networking bid is players and fans of men’s amateur and professional football in the British context, whilst drawing on specific expertise from Europe. The six workshops (see below) will provide a context for lively debate of current research and future challenges, bringing together academics, policymakers, football authorities, and fan groups. The workshops will take place across different parts of the UK (and Berlin) using creative activities to engage diverse participants, whilst prioritising local features of hate crime and responding to wider national and global trends. Workshops will involve artistic facilitators (Nike Jonah of Counterpoint Arts, fanzine producer Hamja Ahsan, and playwright Hassan Mahamdallie) who will use creative approaches (including storyboarding, drama, collage, cartooning) to identify the key issues, themes and potential solutions, and to inform two specific outputs (an illustrated fanzine and short films). The six events will explore the following inter-related themes:

  1. Setting the parameters: hate crime in football (Brighton)
  2. Hate crime in the stadium (Leeds )
  3. Online abuse: social media and hate crime (Glasgow)
  4. Hate in the grassroots game (Liverpool)
  5. The European perspective (Berlin)
  6. The way forward (dissemination event): how fans and authorities can tackle hate crime in football (Glasgow)

To encourage and gain insights from fan groups and policy makers, we have organised funding across all workshop sessions for these groups. In doing so we aim to provide a critical, yet policy relevant, forum in which the practice and impact of hate crime can be better understood.

To this end there will be several public, academic and policy-focused outputs. This includes a fanzine that will illustrate what is hate crime and how individuals can challenge its expression. Three short videos will be produced that highlight some of the key reasons how hate crime occurs across different spatial contexts (elite levels, grassroots, online), and how it can be tackled within institutions and cultural change within the game. In addition, an executive report and position paper will be produced to provide to provide clear guidance for policymakers. Alongside these public-focused outputs, an academic edited book will also be produced. Project details and outputs will be housed on a dedicated website for public