It has been said that in some countries football has become the new religion (although this is a contentious issue). "Religious" aspects of sporting events include:

  • ritual pre-match, match and post-match traditions, ritualised group responses to cues such as on-pitch events, etc.
  • group chanting, singing, dancing.
  • the widespread use of symbols: team colours and logos take on a special importance and insulting these symbols is a grevious insult to the whole side. Wearing them marks the wearer as an adherent of a certain group and divides the world, almost cult-like, into "us" and "them".
  • idol-worship of heroes which is associated with Relics: balls, shirts, numbers, etc. associated with players and events are highly valued.
  • pilgrimages: some fans will fly to another country to see a match live or travel in large groups to far-away places, caravaning, to see events.
  • deep emotional involvement, ecstatic participation which can go in various directions: cathartic, fun, violent, etc.

Football and other such sports lack some aspects usually associated with religion, however:

  • There is, in football, only a hint of transcendence. The memory of some players might be "immortal" and some teams "legendary," but there is little in the way of an idea or ideology that is found in religion. Further information from Learning a language.
  • There are no holy texts. There are famous sayings, but they do not carry authority for regulating belief or behaviour.
  • Prayers are common, but they are usually directed outside the system. Fans and players do not pray "to" football or "to" football heroes, but to the supernatural entities of other religions "about" football.
  • There are god-like figures, but this is usually with a subtle sense of self-irony and fun. Owen Coyle is referred to as "God" by Burnley Football Club. for example, because of his legendary role as a manager for the club, taking them from relegation favourites to the Premier League within 18 months of being appointed. Other such