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Sunday, 3 January 2010


Journalists had always been some sort of problem for anthropologists, despite their valuable help for us. Thanks to them, our researches take more attention from the public. However, most often, before they publish we have to check what they wrote about us, about our researches and about the people on whom we conduct our researches. But, sometimes it becomes a bit difficult.

João Seixas, journalist from Portuguese daily sport journal “Records” made an interview with me just before the match between Portugal and Bosnia and Hercegovina fort he World Cup 2010 qualification.

Here you can find the original article

Here is the translation (I had to add some corrections for the most visible ones):

The anthropologist Dirim Ozkan is one of the most famous researchers of the organized supporters on an european level. (Erratum 1) Born in Turkey, this university professor, that one day decided to leave the turkish army in search of “more brain and less muscle”, spent a big part of his life looking and the root of human behaviour related with the football phenomenon.(Erratum 2)

After a few e-mails we scheduled an encounter in a nice coffee shop in the muslim part of Sarajevo. (Erratum 3) Smiling and in a good mood, Dirim is a master of the spoken word and after four hours of academic talk, almost nothing is left unanswered about this country's supporters and what extra motivation they can give to Miroslav Blazevic players on the game between Portugal and Bosnia, on the way to the South Africa world cup.

“The organized supporters are, like in the rest of the Balcans, very strong and prepared for violence. However, here there's not attacks behind the back. Loyalty is the base and the confrontations are always on a man to man basis, ther's no uneven forces”, reveals Dirim. The “Bosnia Fanatics”, code name for the group that gets together to support the national team, is described as an “well organized force”, beeing that they divide themselves to make sure the team never lacks support: “If the game is at home, national members take care of it. If it's away, there are bosnian supporters in Norway, Sweden and other countries that take care of organizing things”.


Next, it was time for a pull of ears from this Turk that, after studying the phenomenon in several countries, based himself in the Balcans. “Please, don't write that the problems here are motivated exclusively by religion. The problems that exist are motivated by ethnies, by rivalry between urban and rural and finally the normal differences between clubs. What we have between Zenica and Sarajevo is like your Benfica – FC Porto. The ones from the capital city, closer to the power, against the ones further away from it who want to be in front one day”, assumes Dirim.

In fact, connected to this two clubs Dirim tells a story that explains the phenomenon in this region. “Sarajevo's supporters were going to Travnik and were stopped on the road by the Zenica supporters, who are rivals... of Travnik. (Erratum 4)And if some threw stones, others replied with grenades! Sometimes is complicated...” To end, it was time to explain the choice behing Celik's stadium, in Zenika. “It's an english style stadium, with the field very close to the stands. The insults and provocations will be more than many, as is a good example the club's organized supporters, the Robijasi Boys.”

ERRATUM 1: I am really trying to do my best, but I am sure I am too far away of being the “most famous”. This might be a naive exeggeration of João.

ERRATUM 2: There is a great misunderstanding here.I was in military service in Turkish Navy in November 2008 – May 2009. “Less muscle,more brain” is not my own word.It might be a sort of journalistic imagination.

ERRATUM 3: There is nothing like “muslim” or “catholic” or “orthdox” part of the city. The cafe was located in the middle of the Stari Grad (Old City) some hundred meters to some mosques, some churches and even to a synagogue.

ERRATUM 4: The case had happened in Zenica when Zeljo fans were on their way back from a match in Zepce (not in Travnik).

NOTE: Thanks to Filiz Kahveci-Kıyıcı and Pedro Gomes for the translation.