FC PlayFair! apply for fan culture to become part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage

The association „FC PlayFair! committed to the campaign for  integrity in professional football (soccer) has applied to UNESCO to declare “football fan culture” as an intangible Cultural Heritage.

Anyone who has followed German football with any real interest over the past few months will know that fans are becoming increasingly disgruntled. The “Krieg dem DFB” banners have been followed by months of songs and banners about the governing body in Germany, as fans feel they are being pushed further and further away from their beloved clubs. Whether it be stadium bans, talk of a Pokal final in China or Regionalliga reform – it is clear fans feel threatened.

FC PlayFair! is aiming to keep the fans informed, involved and ensure that their gripes and problems are addressed. Their recent survey was an incredible piece of work, and one which comes wholeheartedly recommended for anyone who wishes to see how fans feel with the current situation. The FC PlayFair team have outlined below how they believe this application to UNESCO will help fans, and everyone within the game we all love, to recognise fan culture.

Claus Vogt, founder and President of the association FC PlayFair! comments: “We asked ourselves: Who does football belong to? Does it even belong to anyone? And if it does, does it not also belong to the fans that go to the stadiums?” With the application to UNESCO, FC PlayFair! is hoping to raise social awareness that football may not become the plaything of large associations and investors. So the motion makes it quite clear that “the protective role by the admission onto the UNESCO’s World Heritage List would demonstrate that football does not only belong to the associations and investors but basically belongs to anyone impassioned by it in an active or passive way.”

Bernd Sautter has been responsible for the „project UNESCO“ at FC PlayFair! The ardent “groundhopper” and author has gotten to know various fan cultures all over the world. He emphasizes: “Important and worth protecting in fan culture are those who really live it. We would like to thank these people. Oftentimes they are not organized in associations or clubs, but their passion shows itself in great accomplishments and creativity, week after week, which has become an entire form of culture. Actually, the question about what fan culture achieves, has become a prevailing topic. Recently, it has been widely discussed, which components in Germany can be subsumed under the concept of “Heimat” (“home”).

Since I am socialized in the “football world” I must notice that I know many people, for whom being a football fan and the stadium have become a home. They identify with the club and its fan culture.”

In May of this year, FC PlayFair! published “Situation analysis of professional football 2017”. In the so far largest scientific research on the subject, a survey was conducted in association with kicker sports magazine questioning 17 330 soccer fans of all clubs (first and second league) concerning problems in professional football. The result being that a majority considered the “primary aspiration” of professional football clubs, operatives, players and advisers in attaining more money, a main problem. Also, over 83% of all respondents warned the professional football leagues about distancing themselves even more from their fans.

Prof. Dr. André Bühler is co-founder of FC PlayFair! He conducted the survey “Situation analysis in professional football 2017” at the German Institute of Sports Marketing.

He says: “The conclusion of our study is the very basis for our application at UNESCO.

We are not at all against commercialization- on the contrary- a healthy economic approach is essential to football. However, it must not be taken to an extreme and the fans must not fall by the wayside as a result, because football does not work without its fans.”

The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was passed on October 17, 2003 by the UNESCO General Conference. It entered into force in April 2006. The convention emphasizes the interdependency between the tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage. It complements the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972. At the same time, it accentuates the special character of the intangible cultural heritage, which, in contrast to the tangible heritage is “alive” and therefore is less stable and prone to social transformational processes.

About FC PlayFair!

 “FCPlayFair! Association for integrity in professional football” e.V was founded in January 2017 by family entrepreneur Claus Vogt and sports manager Prof. Dr. André Bühler, in order to identify urgent problems and provide solution approaches in light of the increasing commercialization in professional football in Germany and elsewhere. The members of FC PlayFair! love soccer and are supporters of different clubs. They support their clubs from business seats and stands as well. FC PlayFair! strictly works across the borders of football club interests. Find out more at www.fcplayfair.org

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Jonathan Walsh

Jonny is a 2. Bundesliga fanatic who does little else with his time other than follow, watch, write about, think about, and promote his favorite league. When he isn't in university or trying to defend the Bundesliga's 50+1 rule, you'll most likely find him watching whatever football he can find on TV. Follow him @jonathanwalsh_

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