We are Wu: assessing Chinese fans’ socio-cultural identification with the only Chinese footballer in a top European league

Huawen James Shen, Libo Yan, Ben Ye Haobin, Qi Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examined how Chinese football fans identify themselves with Lei Wu, currently the only Chinese footballer playing in a European mainstream league. Chinese fans’ social media posts about Wu were compared after scoring vs. not scoring, and after playing vs. playing, in several matches in a row. Qualitative (content analysis) and quantitative (chi-square tests) analyses were conducted. Two major dimensions of identification with Wu emerged, namely athletic (identification with Wu’s athleticism) and socio-cultural (identification with Wu as a Chinese icon). There was stronger socio-cultural identification with Wu when he scored goals, but this aspect of identification did not vary based on whether or not he made league appearances. The study makes a unique contribution by studying fandom as a mechanism for expressing cultural pride. The results are discussed in terms of the cultural and policy contexts of contemporary China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-479
Number of pages12
JournalLeisure Studies
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • China
  • Sport fandom
  • content analysis
  • correlation analysis
  • football
  • identification

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