Why do fans buy and how do they consume football-related paraphernalia (shirts, jerseys, scarves, hats, flags, etc.)? Over the last five years, we have immersed ourselves in the football subculture of three European countries in order to understand the meanings given to items of merchandise. Emerging from data analysis and interpretation, we show that colours and scarves are connected with four major consumption functions, i.e., identification, socialisation, expression and sacralisation. The consumption of paraphernalia not only supports the creation and expression of private and collective identities, it also helps fans to transcend their existence. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.