Football is about chasing greatness, but when our club loses, it leaves a void that's hard to fill. It's that void what interests us. A survey by Forza Football found that our favourite clubs have a big impact on us, even though we can't control the game's outcome.
Through our app, we conducted a survey with over 700 people worldwide to explore their feelings as football fans and how it impacts their overall well-being. We sought to understand the depth of their fandom, the significance of their favourite football club to their well-being, and the effects of poor results on their emotions and behaviour. These are just some of the questions we asked you, and now it's time to analyse the results.
For a proper analysis, it was important for us to grasp the level of attachment you have with your team. 47% of respondents identified themselves as 'passionate fans'. Additionally, 19% classified themselves as 'extreme' fans, indicating an even higher level of devotion. Among the respondents, 12% proudly claimed the title of 'die-hard' fans, showcasing their unwavering loyalty. On the other hand, a mere 5% identified themselves as 'casual' fans, while 17% fell into the 'moderate' category, indicating a more balanced level of commitment.
Undoubtedly, one of the most crucial questions in our survey revolved around the significance of your football club in relation to your overall well-being. Surprisingly, only 9% of participants reported that their favourite club was 'not at all important' for their overall well-being. On the other hand, 23% expressed that their team held a 'slightly important' position in their well-being. For the majority of respondents (36%), their club was deemed 'moderately important' for their overall well-being. A significant 24% indicated that their club was 'very important', while an additional 7% considered their favourite club to be of 'extreme importance' for their overall well-being. Adding these last three up, we can say that for 67%, their football club has an impact on their overall well-being.
When your team performs poorly, it can affect you in various ways. To capture the range of possible responses, we formulated our options based on prior research and included an 'other' option for additional inputs. The question was designed to allow for the selection of multiple answers. Interestingly, the responses revealed a noticeable pattern. The majority of participants (27%) reported experiencing feelings of anger after their team's disappointing performance. Additionally, 21% shared that they often felt a sense of despair. From there, the responses became more diverse, as outlined below.
It's comforting to know that these emotions don't always come to the surface. After all, when your team wins, there's no reason to worry. According to the survey, 42% of respondents indicated that the mentioned reactions only occur 'rarely', implying that experiencing such negative emotions was infrequent for them. On the other hand, 46% mentioned that these emotions occurred 'sometimes', suggesting that they experienced them occasionally. 9% of participants reported that these feelings emerged 'frequently', while only 3% claimed to 'always' experience them. Although these findings demonstrate the connection between the success of one's team and the resilience fans have developed in response to losses, it still is a significant outcome.
When you are faced with such feelings, it's interesting to note that 44% of respondents require a couple of hours to cope with the emotional aftermath. However, an even larger percentage, 33%, indicated that they need a full day to recover. The impact doesn't end there, though. For 20% of participants, it takes a few days to fully bounce back, while a small percentage of 2% reported needing a week or even longer. Interestingly, there's also a small group (1%) who mentioned that the emotional effect(s) persist(s).
In dealing with the emotional challenges that arise from supporting your favourite football club, you use various methods. The options for this question were formulated based on our research and includes an 'other' category for additional inputs. The most prevalent approach, chosen by 21% of respondents, is to remind themselves that it's just a game – a way to maintain perspective. Similarly, 17% of participants try to focus on the positive aspects of their team, in a search for optimism. Furthermore, another 17% find help in talking to friends and family, seeking support and understanding to help navigate the difficulties that come with being a fan. The other percentages can be seen below.
A staggering majority of 53% feel that social media worsen your feelings as a football fan. In fact, 55% of participants have intentionally avoided social media platforms following a defeat, seeking to shield themselves from the negative reactions and comments of other fans. Research we have done prior to this survey, suggests that social media can have a negative influence on football fans in two key ways. Firstly, the constant influx of opinions and criticism on social media can intensify emotions, leading to disappointment and frustration among fans. And secondly, the anonymity and detachment of social media can enable toxic behaviour, including online harassment and bullying.
Interestingly, and perhaps (partly) due to the taboo surrounding the topic, it is quite surprising that only 5% of individuals have actually sought help for their emotional struggles as a football fan. This suggests that a significant number of fans may be grappling with their feelings in silence, without reaching out for support or guidance. It underscores the need for greater awareness and open dialogue surrounding the emotional well-being of football enthusiasts.
The key findings of the survey can be summarised as follows:
• A significant percentage of 67% of respondents believe that the performances of their favourite club have an impact on their overall well-being. The importance of this influence varies, with 36% considering it moderately important, 24% very important, and 7% extremely important.
• The most commonly reported symptoms among fans are feelings of anger (27%) and despair (21%). A smaller group of fans (11%) mention a tendency towards violence or suicidal thoughts (3%) as a result of disappointing results.
• The duration of these symptoms is significant, with 44% of respondents requiring a couple of hours to cope with the emotional aftermath. However, 33% need a full day to recover, and 20% take a few days to fully bounce back. A small percentage (2%) report needing a week or even longer, while another 1% mention that the emotional effects persist.
• A majority of 53% of respondents feel that social media worsens their feelings as football fans.
• Only 5% of respondents have sought help for their feelings, suggesting a possible taboo surrounding mental health in relation to football fandom.