Sports Arena vs. Crowd Psychology – A Psychosocial Analysis of Polish Football Fans’ Participation in UEFA EURO 2012
With reference to the arena in the ancient Greek ritual theater, the Roman circus, or later the medieval arena as the venue of tournaments of knights, the author recalls the changeability of social functions of public spectacles. Together with the expansion of corporeality and the spirit of competition that started at the beginning of the 20th century, when a sports arena became a place of testing human physical possibilities, also the idea of a modern football stadium is born. The aim of this paper is to synthesize psychosocial aspects of Polish fans’ participation in UEFA EURO 2012. In his paper of a theoretical character the author raises three specific questions regarding the reception of the European Football Championships, the greatest sports event ever held in Poland. Were football matches not changed into a manifestation of the need for ludic affiliation and social emotions which cannot find other means of expression? Were the great expectations not a kind of therapy to compensate for national complaints? And did Poland’s matches against certain national teams become a surrogate method to eliminate negative emotions by referring to the metaphor of pseudo-patriotic war against historical enemies? Were the Polish fans’ expectations for their team’s success not too high, taking into consideration the football abilities of the team? The author analyzed fans’ reactions in terms of the assumptions of crowd psychology established by Le Bon. He proves that, on the one hand, fans wanted to demonstrate Europe they were not worse than others and their team could win, too. On the other hand, fans wanted to have much fun regardless of the result, that is to see how it was to be loyal fans of their favorite team. There is also an alarming trend in the attitudes assumed by Polish fans who underline the patriotic and nationalistic context.
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