Religious Appropriation in European Football: Incorporation of Jewish Identity and Discourse by Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspur



Purkey, Jared Jack

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The thesis explores the discourse created by the supporters of two of Europe’s more popular football clubs in order to determine how and why they have socially constructed identities that involve Jewish songs, images and symbols. Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspur of London, England are considered “Jewish” clubs based on their self-identification as “Super Jews” and “Yids" respectively. These identities are sometimes misinterpreted by outside groups which have led to anti-Semitic abuse over the years. By analyzing what the parties are saying about themselves, discourse analysis allowed for this research to understand the context and history that led to the creation of these identities and how they have been misinterpreted by opposing football supporters and other members of society. A comparison of how each club uses songs, symbols, and publications to maintain and create their discourse is followed by a synthesis of similarities and differences. Reviewing theories of appropriation and agency, this research concludes that the two supporters groups have legitimately constructed new forms of Jewishness that borrow songs and symbols from previous types of Jewishness by injecting new meaning into them. The world of sports offers unique challenges and specific opportunities for social scientific research. Understanding how identities are created, maintained, and interpreted by multiple parties inside a football grounds could provide useful insight into how identity-based abuse occurs all over the world.



Discourse analysis, Football, Soccer, Jewish, Judaism, Religious symbols, Cultural appropriation, Europe, European