It is the ultimate sporting sin. You can own a season ticket dating back to 1969, have the knowledge of your team’s U18s and even ink the club crest on your skin, yet it all means nothing if you turn up to a football match and speak in a funny accent. It seems you still can’t be classed a ‘true supporter’ unless you just so happen to have been born within a few square miles of a football team’s stadium. The “bigger” the team you support the more you seem to have to justify it to other fans especially if you have no sort of geographical link to that club.
There are many supporters who are looked down upon because they support a club that is from a city or country that they are not from. Is this fair, or is it justified? To support a football club, the club should either represent the place you were born, the place you grew up, feel the most attached to, a parent choice, or because a specific player or manager made you fall in love with the club. Supporting a club because of recent success though would not be a case I can defend I am afraid, you’re what people would call a ‘Glory Hunter’ and there’s no space for that.
You have to remember, it is tough for locals to get tickets to a football game at the top level of football, so you can imagine the difficulty if you live far away, and that is totally understandable. A football club that has millions of supporters but can only hold fifty odd thousand in a stadium will always mean it is difficult to get inside. A supporters dream would be to attend every single home and away game, but other duties or circumstances get in the way. Those who are lucky enough to get tickets from up and down the country or even around the world and get themselves on to planes are every bit as committed as “local fans”. These people spend large sums of money on match tickets, on hotels, petrol (you get the picture), so it would be really unfair to class them as anything less than a ‘supporter’.
“Go and support your local club” – If everyone in the world went on to support their local club, the most popular clubs in the world would be in Tokyo being Yokohama FC and FC Tokyo in the J1 League, it would also be the biggest derby in the world.
38,241,000 people live in Tokyo compared to 6,325,000 in Madrid
With over 4 billion followers of football, a few of the most popular clubs in terms of support in the world are arguably Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea, and Arsenal. The clubs grew and became the clubs that they are now because of the fans around the world. The money and support that football fans give is what keeps football and clubs alive. Purchasing the clubs jersey(s), clothing, memorabilia etc all count towards their support to the club. An example would be when Real Madrid had claimed sales of branded shirts and other ‘Ronaldo memorabilia’ had already seen them recoup a substantial amount of the 25-year-old’s transfer fee (£80 million). It is a fundamental part of how money comes into the club, from supporters around the world. Every supporter will have bought a club jersey, with the average cost in England being £49.68. Just goes to show that fans give a lot to the clubs they support – emotionally and financially.
Real Madrid v Chelsea friendly draws 105,826 attendance in USA
If fans should support local clubs, then maybe football players should also be playing for their local teams. It should work both ways, right? Lionel Messi would be playing for Rosario Central in Argentina, while Cristiano Ronaldo would be at C.S. Marítimo in Portugal. It is time football supporters were allowed the same freedom as players, without fear of being branded a “glory hunter” or “plastic fan”. Especially as the supporters will still be there a long time after the players have been and gone. You could then even go onto managers, which would be a little bit extreme but so is this situation. Bob Paisley who’s from Durham, imagine if he had not been allowed the job because he was not from Liverpool? Alex Ferguson would have had to manage a team in Glasgow – not Manchester and Jose Mourinho would still be at Porto. Sounds silly, but if you think about it, if fans have to support their local clubs than it should be the same for everyone else.
70,000 Indonesian Kopites in a pre season friendly.
I will have to agree on the thoughts that a lot of football stadiums’ atmosphere is dying because of ‘day trippers’. Now there isn’t anything wrong with someone attending a football match for the first time, but attending a football match should not be viewed the same as attending the theater or cinema. You should not really attend if you are there to get your iPad or phone out and take pictures throughout the game. You can see how that can be slightly annoying for the other supporters around you. Yes, football is entertainment but you are there to support your team. This could mean singing, shouting and on the occasion the referee gets the wrong decision, swearing. (Not in front of the kids though). If you do live in the same country your football team is in, than I personally think you should make an effort to go and watch a game at least once a season. Remember that there are people who live too far away who would give their right arm away to watch their favourite football club and players but either cannot afford it or are simply unable to, so if you see people attending a game who look different to you don’t judge them because they do not look ‘local’, you do not know their story.
Football is a sport that unites people all over the world, whether you are from Nairobi in Kenya, New Delhi in India or London in England, everyone has one thing in common and that is the love for the game. Put it into perspective and where they are from will not matter in the slightest. Everyone wants the same things; to support their team and success.
I spoke to some football fans around the world who have their say on how they give their time to support their respective football clubs:
“I wake up at 6am-8am because I am lucky enough to live on the East Coast. I head to Carras pub which is in New York and it costs me about $45 each match day, $24 for the trip and $15 for the food, it can sometimes be more than that. I have recently booked a flight to England so I can watch Liverpool vs Burnley this season on March the 12th. The trip is going to cost me in an excess of $1000 – all for Liverpool Football Club. I grew up supporting Liverpool and outcomes of games determine my whole mood and there is literally nothing in this world more important to me. I am as big a fan as the next scouser who is lucky enough to watch every single match at Anfield.”
“I am from South Africa and always manage to catch the Arsenal games. I have supported Arsenal all my life and have been to London twice to watch my beloved football club. It is difficult to travel there and back as it will cost a fortune but I will try and get to 3 or 4 games a season. It may not seem like a lot but it means the world to me. Otherwise I will be watching it at my local pub or at home with my brother. I would classify myself as a true honest Arsenal supporter and would not change it for the world.”
“I am from London and support Manchester Utd. I have supported Man Utd ever since I was a young boy because of my Dad who was born and raised in Manchester. I tend to go to as many games as possible but it can be difficult once I get there. As soon as they hear my ‘London accent’ I get looked at as if I was an alien. I feel like I have to always explain myself. It is a shame as I love the club as much as they do. I get up at 5 am in the morning to get the train from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly Station, pay for travel, pay for the hotel, pay for the match day programme, pay for the half time pie at the game, it costs me a fortune but I will do it as many times as I can afford. I have travelled over 200 miles on a train, sung my heart out for 90 minutes, for a 0-0 draw. I am as much a supporter as anyone who lives in Manchester.
These short stories from football supporters prove that you do not have to be from that area or city to truly support the club. What matters are your actions. You may not agree with everything said in this article but I hope it has opened your eyes and taken into cosideration what football fans go through to support their football club. Football is such a massive sport that you cannot devalue others. Support whoever you like, but make sure you do it with passion and stick with them otherwise what is the point?
– Vilson Beiqi
Inspiration and some usage from Sam Rowe – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/10735258/Whats-wrong-with-not-supporting-my-local-team.html