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The Neoliberalization of Football: Rethinking Neoliberalism Through the Commercialization of the Beautiful Game

This ethnographic study explores how football (soccer) fandoms respond to neoliberal reforms, adding to a growing debate on the nature of neoliberalism by scholars such as geographer David Harvey, sociologist Nikolas Rose, and anthropologist Anna Tsing. In order to critique spatially and temporally coherent characterizations of neoliberalism, brief case analysis of fan reactions to the commercialization of Brazilian club Corinthians and English club Manchester United are used. Specifically, comparative insights from fans’ negotiation of market-based restructurings reveal how neoliberal ‘flows’ are implemented and experienced differently in different places. Particularities in these flows are employed to disassemble hegemonic and universal visions of neoliberalism through the notion of friction.