When the Beautiful Game Turns Ugly: A Study of Fan Experiences of Perceived Match Fixing in Soccer
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Limited academic attention has been given to the nexus between corruption in soccer and its impact on fandom. Consequently, the purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand the lived experiences of highly identified soccer fanatics living through this era of match fixing in the sport. Social networking site Twitter was utilized to recruit participants from three continents – Africa, Europe, and North America – based on submissions to the site in response to a perceived fix from a high-profile March, 2013 match. A total of 12 semi-structured interviews were conducted with highly identified soccer fans in accordance with Funk and James’ (2001) Psychological Continuum Model (PCM). Despite the majority of participants feeling skepticism about the purity of soccer today, half of the participants’ fandom remained unchanged in the face of perceived match fixing. Directions for future research and recommendations are considered and discussed.