In 1981 English Zoologist Desmond Morris wrote ‘The Soccer Tribe’ . In a nutshell, Morris provided an anthropological investigation of football fans, labelling them a tribe and analogising football behaviours to primitive hunting practices. A clever parody to say the least.
Morris makes some interesting points in the book and reminds me how supporters social identities and self concepts are moulded by their clubs. Seeing the activities of Newcastle fans in recent months confirms for me how the performance of a football club can have an effect on short run emotional experience.Attachment at all levels of the sport has psychological significance but for some, football is a religion. If anyone doubts the existence of this kind of fanaticism I would encourage you to visit a pub close to Anfield before a Liverpool home tie.
It seems that the Brazilian club Corinthians are taking advantage of this emotional and spiritual side of the game even further. The club plans to open a cemetery for supporters so they can be buried next to famous players and fans alike. Previously I spoke about how Premier League clubs are excellent at price discriminating with their ticket prices. Corinthians are pretty good too when it comes to graves. As the BBC outlines; “Plots will cost between 4,500 and 7,800 (between $1,870 and $3,240) depending on the area of the cemetery that is selected and its closeness to club idols who will also be buried at the site”.In an era of wage and transfer fee inflation, maybe economists will have a new posthumous measure of a footballers worth!
A morbid innovation to say the least by Corinthians. That still, it will be interesting to see if other clubs will follow suit and whether there's a market for death inside the sports industry. While some will probably see this as a profit seeking firm extracting final pay-offs from lifelong fans, I'm sure others will see the spiritual benefits on offer to a loyal member of the tribe.