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The Deprofessionalization of Football: The People’s Football Movement in Italy

The movement in Italy known as calcio popolare, or people’s football, is characterized by the organization of fan owned and managed football teams in local divisions. Growing out of the Italian ultrà phenomenon, calcio popolare marks a fifth phase in the history of the ultrà movement, expressing the alienation from heavily commercialized mass-market professional football felt by fans. This article draws on the authors’ direct experience with CS Lebowski, one of the oldest and most successful of the calcio popolare teams, to illustrate the ways in which these teams present implicit and explicit challenges to the current degree of commercialization that characterizes professional football.