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Football, Nationalism, and Fan Violence in China

Brian Bridges

Journal of Current Chinese Affairs - China aktuell, 2008, vol. 37, issue 2, 60-82

Abstract: The linkages between football, nationalism and spectator violence in China are analysed by discussing the reactions of the Chinese to two footballing defeats: the World Cup qualifying loss to Hong Kong in 1985 and the loss to Japan in the 2004 Asian Cup final. Using both political science and sociological perspectives, the settings of the two games and the violent post-match reactions of the Chinese fans are examined within a comparative framework against the background of Chinese nationalism, China’s complex relationships with Hong Kong and Japan at the time of the two games, and the significance of sport (and football in particular) in Chinese popular and governmental perspectives. The article argues that while the concept of hooliganism might best explain the 1985 events, nationalism provides greater insight into the 2004 events.

Date: 2008
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