A Game of Moans: Fantipathy and Criticism in Football Fandom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Previous studies of anti-fandom and divided fan communities have been productive in reminding us that media texts are not consumed solely for “positive” reasons. Yet the term “anti-fandom” implies an inherent separation between those who “like” and “dislike” a particular fan object, wherein dislike, hatred, and negative affect are associated with the “other side of fandom” (Alters 2007). To date, there has been little consideration of the ways in which we express our love for something by complaining about it.

Accordingly, this chapter calls for a reevaluation of negative affect and its importance to fandom. What I term “fantipathy” regularly functions as an important, routinised mode of discourse for fans within fan communities, especially (but not exclusively) in relation to team sports, where criticism of one’s own team is not merely tolerated but often actively encouraged. Through a netnographic study of Liverpool FC fans, the chapter demonstrates precisely how fundamental criticisms and complaints are to (football) fan discourse. I argue that, as a gauge of the level or nature of someone’s investment in a text, an emphasis on pleasure is, at best, incomplete and, at worst, demonstrably misrepresentative.

Fantipathy may appear to be a symptom of individual detachment or collective disagreement, but instead, I demonstrate that it serves a number of deceptively “positive” rhetorical functions—negotiating moments of crisis, facilitating social bonds with other fans, and performing (sub)cultural capital.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnti-Fandom
Subtitle of host publicationDislike and Hate in the Digital Age
EditorsMelissa A. Click
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNew York University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781479851041 , 9781479805273
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2019

Publication series

NamePostmillennial Pop
PublisherNew York University Press

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