Neoliberalizing football and fandom: the authoritarian e-ticketing system in Turkish stadiums

Erturan-Ogut E. E.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPORT POLICY AND POLITICS, vol.12, no.1, pp.91-110, 2020 (Journal Indexed in ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/19406940.2019.1638814
  • Page Numbers: pp.91-110


Launched in 2014 in Turkey, the Passolig e-ticketing card has been accused of commodifying football fans, favouring the ruling-class, and being an authoritarian state tool to protect stadiums from increasing political opposition. This criticism recalls the practice of neoliberalism. Therefore, the study poses the following question: According to the empirical analysis of fan opinions, is there any evidence of neoliberal involvement in the Passolig? With an analytical discussion on the axis of neoliberalism, the study argues that Turkish football has been woven into the development of neoliberalism in the country. Data from focus group interviews also show convincing evidence that the Passolig system involves neoliberalism, both in economic and socio-political terms. Fan opinions are aligned with the neoliberal outcomes of the Passolig: the financial sector was strengthened through the creation of new bank customers and new transactions, and commodified fans have turned into overspending football consumers; therefore, a more commercialized football market in the competitive global football sphere has developed. Most of the fans evaluate the new system as a tool for blacklisting opposing fans and reducing stadium protests against the government. These fan opinions align with the concept of authoritarian neoliberalism, as the emerging literature suggests. The data also show that the Passolig can be considered a tool for the gentrification of the fan profile, which is now more controlled by the authoritarian neoliberal state.