Contrary to the general tendency in contemporary Western societies to divest the

sacred of meaning, one sees an astonishing vitality of religious practices in foot-

ball. In the Catholic regions of Europe such as southern Italy and Spain, one finds

a close connection between the worship of saints and the veneration of excep-

tional football players. But not just there; the reverence for football heroes takes

on religious dimensions in the protestant North as well. Football fans transform

stadia into cathedrals where they perform roles and act in unison as a religious

community. How is it possible for this kind of attitude to come into being?