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Column: Nationality should not matter in allegiance

Soccer Columnist

Published: Monday, February 3, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 22:02

As an American supporter of an English based soccer club, the amount of grief I receive on a daily basis for being a “plastic” supporter is utter nonsense.

Then I realize I just said “soccer” and, well, that doesn’t go over with too kindly with those football supporters in Manchester, England.

So what? Working under the guidance of Manchester United’s digital media team, I’ve come to love Manchester United even more. While it’s a learning process, you come to appreciate the world’s most beautiful game. And while younger generations may have experienced the trophy-laden careers of our beloved clubs such as United, Chelsea and not so much for the Gooners – there is absolutely no reason to down us for living across the ocean.

While we Americans may not be in the Etihad Stadium, drink a pint in the Britannia, or see Tom Huddlestone chop off his hair at the KC Stadium; we are attentively watching.

Whether in our dorm rooms, in the bars or in the darkened rooms as our sounding alarms awoke our neighbors–rise and shine, it’s football time.

Those in the United States may have never seen the streets of Manchester or the pub of Paddy Crerand or even the goggles that Edgar Davids once sported – but so what?
Where does this entitlement come into play when it’s the world’s game? I thought it was natural for supporters from all around the world to love a club with every ounce of their being.

Are the supporters who file into stadiums in Japan, Russia and Indonesia a load of fake supporters as well? I’d imagine the likes of Piers Morgan being quite upset if someone explained to him that Arsenal supporters are only from London. Then again, I’d be surprised if he welcomed back Robin van Persie with open arms as well.

It should not matter that I’m from Connecticut or that we’re from a different culture. Last I checked, there was never an option to check off “Manchester, UK” on my birth certificate. Yes, another thing to blame my mother and father for.

From sea to shining sea our fellow Americans watch at the edge of their seats. As David Beckham smashed home his free kick to send England to the World Cup against Greece, or Steven Gerrard and Liverpool’s thunderous three-goal comeback against AC Milan in the Champions League final, supporters throughout the world erupted in joy.

While proximity may play a key factor in the discrimination against foreign supporters, it appears quite unnecessary. Professional soccer clubs are meant to be global entities; clubs with fan bases which spread far and wide and into the most remote sections of the world.

Who doesn’t know who Cristiano Ronaldo is? Who has not seen Wayne Rooney’s spectacular winner against Manchester City in the derby? Or who hasn’t heard of Bayern Munich?
My point exactly. In any sport there are plastic supporters who only occasionally glance at the television when their respective club is winning.

And again, from my experiences with meeting fellow Americans who support clubs abroad, I’ve seen my fair share of distasteful images. I’ve seen a grown man with Chelsea bottoms and a Ryan Giggs shirt. I’ve even seen a Juventus jersey with the name “Kaka” plastered on the back – talk about an oxymoron.

Those isolated incidents make any true supporter hang his or her head in shame. However, I have also seen are those who wake up at 6:30 a.m. to watch a North London Derby or a relegation battle between Bolton and Middleborough.

Whichever part of the globe you may be from, never let anyone try and detach you from the club you love.

 

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