It is known that sport fans played a prominent role in Byzantine politics. Initially there were four teams: the greens, the reds, the whites and the blues. But later the reds and the whites were absorbed, so the main contention was between the greens and the blues.

The enmity between the teams was so high that they had separate sectors of the city's wall to defend in case of a war. Various emperors were supported by different teams, and many coups were staged out of this strife.

I wonder whether there was any other state in history where the sports fans influenced politics to a similar degree?

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    the current US comes to mind, where many people are so obsessed with mimicking their idols that they'll abandon their political ideas and vote the way those idols tell them to (of course this isn't limited to either the US or sports, but is particularly prevalent there). – jwenting May 15 '13 at 13:33
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    @jwenting - USA sports fandom is but a pale shadow of what you see in Latin America or Europe around their soccer clubs and national teams. If anything, the USA is the place that least comes to mind. – T.E.D. May 15 '13 at 13:39
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    Vaguely related: the 1969 "Football War" between El Salvador and Honduras. Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_war . I have heard stated that a football (soccer) game was a triggering factor of the war, but the Wikipedia article appears to tone this down a bit. – Jørgen May 15 '13 at 16:12
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    @T.E.D. - jwenting's point wasn't sports displacing politics, but people listening to sports stars (and other celebrities) as authorities on which political positions to take. I'm not sure Latin America or Europe has this phenomenon. – DVK May 15 '13 at 19:16
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    @DVK - That point was wrong too, but so wrong I didn't even bother addressing it. In the USA we are pretty much used to thinking of our athletes as total buffoons in off-the-field matters (and they quite often don't disappoint in that respect). – T.E.D. May 15 '13 at 22:03

The city state of Siena comes to mind. Today it is famous for the horse race the Palio di Siena, which pits the cities nine districts against one another. Modern life in Siena still revolves around the horse races and citizens have little contact outside their own district. During the Middle Ages, the citizens took part in numerous sports competitions between their nine districts and each district had a separate government within the Siena city state, referred to as the "Government of Nine." In the 14th century, following plagues and famine, there were rebellions and infighting and Siena was annexed by The Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

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