Home > experience, soccer, sport management, Sports, Travel > My different soccer experiences in different countries

My different soccer experiences in different countries

I have attended football (soccer) games on three different continents. I have been to two games in the United States, five games in England, and one game in Lima, Peru. The different experiences I have gained in the separate countries is striking.

Upon my attendance to the Revolution game Saturday night, I couldn’t help but notice who it was being marketed towards. The way it was promoted is as a family event. There were people of all ages at the game, playing upbeat music, with family-friendly chants. The Revolution section was chanting “Go Rev’s” and “Rev-o-lution!” It was great and a very fun time. Parents are encouraged to bring their young children and no one is afraid to show their pride. Everyone had jerseys on and attire sporting their favorite team. This experience at this game could not be any different than those I experienced in other countries.

The games I have attended in England were scary at times. I attended games of a couple of notoriously violent clubs, such as Millwall FC, West Ham United and Charlton FC. Very few people wear the jersey of their favorite team because if you are caught walking down the wrong street, you could be in serious trouble. Some people sported their teams colors, but very few. I couldn’t help but notice how different it is from over here. Everyone at sporting events in the US wears their favorite teams colors. You wear the jersey or anything to support them. Over there it is not like that.

Me at the Charlton grounds

At the England games it was anything but a family affair. I will spare the details, but let’s just say that I learned lots of new, colorful language. The games are extremely intense. The entire crowd is pulsating as the game moves on. Everyone is chanting in unison at all times. I took so many videos, and photos, but none of them can convey the environment like being there does. The people are so passionate about their sport it is unbelievable. Every time a goal is scored the place goes insane. People are so loud, chanting, cursing at the other team, and high-fiving all around. It is similar to a score here (minus the cursing of the other team and chanting). Everyone is jumping up and down. Soccer is a game in which one goal is crucial and can decide an entire match, which is why people get so emotional about each individual one.

Me at Charlton

One thing I noticed in the different games I attended is the fact that the game is almost a chanting match. Each side tries to out-chant or out-sing the other. They have countless numbers of different songs and chants specified to their specific club. When you think of a chant here in the US, most of them are just a few words that are repeated. Overseas there are chants that are entire songs, lasting for more than a minute. If the away team scores and they begin to chant, the home team will try to drown them out with their chants (since they have so many more people present at the game). These people live for their team.

Another thing I noticed was the frequency of fights. In England and Peru the police took measures to separate the fans, as they place the away fans in their own section. They are guarded by security and often have empty sections separating them from the home fans. Barbed wire is also used (in Peru). People still try to get to the other fans and fight them, however, their attempts were often thwarted and they were arrested. I witnessed a big brawl in a game in England, in which some away fans were sitting amongst the home fans. They must have begun to cheer when a goal was scored as a brawl broke out. The police arrested several people and it was very intense. In Peru, people were constantly fighting in the stands, striking at each other and then running away.

My friend Scott and I attended an away game that was Charlton FC v. Brentford. This game was at Brentford and Scott and I were supporters of Charlton. The away grounds only allocate a certain number of tickets for away fans and we were unable to buy any. The only option was to sit in the home grounds. We decided to sit in the front row and be as silent as possible. We were not allowed to cheer when Charlton scored and had to act disappointed. If Brentford scored we had to stand up and clap quietly, holding in our actual displeasure. I will not lie, it was very scary. A few supporters of Charlton were discovered behind us and they were rushed by angry Brentford fans. The police quickly surrounded the Charlton fans and escorted them off the premises. I was afraid for my life and knew that if we messed up once and let our emotions get a hold of us, we would be in trouble. We were surrounded by Brentford fans and we were in the front row. We were whispering that if we accidentally had an outburst of joy, we would run onto the field to escape the fans.

Millwall FC

The violence in soccer is unbelievable in other countries. People are probably familiar with the fact that there are firms (groups of fans of particular teams) who have their own territories and actually organize fights with other firms of other teams. This is evident in the popular movie Green Street Hooligans. I didn’t see any of this, but the people are definitely violent. Screaming obscenities and curses at the other team’s fans in the street is nothing unusual, along with in the games. If an away fan is discovered to be sitting in the home fan’s area, they are attacked and beaten until the police arrive. There is no mercy.

To me, I am shocked that people are willing to fight, be arrested, or even die for their clubs. It is clearly a way of life. I call myself a die-hard sports fan, but let’s not lie, the day I am faced with the ultimatum of Boston Bruins or my life… I’m taking my life and heading for the hills (where maybe I’ll discover they have a channel with the Bruins on). People over there see it differently.

The game is marketed completely differently. Here I see it being marketed as a family event, however, in other countries it is far from it. The games are violent and really are no place for a child. There are kids present at the games, however, they don’t seem to be the types of kids you think of here. Let’s just say they are not as “soft” as the kids around here.

Alianza Lima (Peru)

If you ever get the opportunity to go to a soccer game in another country, I would definitely recommend it. They are extremely fun (if you can get past the initial culture shock) and a great experience, not to mention the prices are not out of control over there like they are here.

If you have any personal football (soccer) or other sports stories from other countries feel free to share them in the comments section.

  1. Ryan Burke
    April 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    This is a great article and gives some insight to the soccer events both, here in America and overseas, although I am sure it does not compare to the actual experience. Some day I hope the opportunity presents itself.

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