Are foreign fans clueless?

Over the years, foreign fans throughout the Premier League have got a raw deal. They have been accused of not being real fans. Not understanding the passion for the game. Not having the same loyalty as English based fans. They have been derided and often, when it comes to a debate via a message board, the common response is ‘Your opinion means nothing as you are not from England.’

Whilst in the past, these points could have been valid, is it still the case that foreign fans of Premier League clubs can still be labeled as clueless, not having loyalty, not being bandwagon jumpers and lacking passion?

When you look at The Arsenal tour of Asia this summer, the atmosphere within the stadiums was incredible. Louder than the Emirates during most of the games. And non-stop. Yes, some argued that those same fans would turn up in their Manchester City shirts if it was Manchester City playing, or their Chelsea shirts if Chelsea were playing, but surely these fans would be in the minority. Surely now, with the globalisation of football, a foreign fan should be considered as an equal to their English counterpart?

These days, a lot of foreign fans have not just jumped on the bandwagon of the Premier League. There are genuine fans out there that have supported us since pre-teens, just like many fans in England would have started their proper support of the club around the age of 10. Is a 22 year old Arsenal fans who has supported Arsenal since 10 any different to an English Arsenal fan that has supported since 10?

Yes, they might not get the passion of the stadium, of the match going fan, but having been in a few bars throughout the world where Arsenal have been playing, they are as passionate as the stadium. To label them as anything as passionless is disgraceful. Would you label the Twelve Pins or The George or the Gunners as passionless on a game day?

I follow two people who highlight the passion of fans not in England. The first is @LordHillWood, a ex-pat living in Poland. The stories he tells of the Polish Arsenal fans shows anything but a lack of passion. The way they get to the pub early to ‘decorate’ it. The chucking out of Spurs fans. It shows real passion. Not just from the ex-pats but also from the Polish born fans. The second is @SSGooner, a Malaysian fan. Again, there is no lack of passion. from him when it comes to game day, with each match brilliantly planned.

I also speak to  few Australian fans. They always seem to be awake when Arsenal are playing. Always watching them game. Even if it is 3am in the morning. How about that for commitment? When you see some English-based fans barely even being able to get out of bed for a 12.45 ko, or ducking out on a European game due to a hard day at work or its a little cold, these foreign fans seem to be able to wake up and watch the games, no matter the consequence of sleep deprivation for the next day.

Then we come to the knowledge of the fans. This is somewhere where the foreign fans and English fan are more then equal. In fact, some would argue tha many foreign fans are more knowledgable, as they actually study the game, whilst the Englishman turns up, watch’s the game drunk, then continues to drink.

Two little stories. One is of a friend who went to Ethiopia on a business trip recently. Upon his cab driver discovering he was an Arsenal fan, he was then lectured for half an hour, by the Ethiopian cabbie, on what Arsene Wenger was doing wrong, how he should be sacked, and questioning why we had not signed anyone. From the sounds of it, he was spot on. Had it been a black cab driver in London, nothing would have been mentioned. It was a clear that there was not a knowledge gap.

The second little story is of a friend at the game. Behind him was two American’s discussing the game. Whilst they did use frustrating American terminology, their knowledge was impeccable. Even as far as talking about how Sagna was only playing at centre back in an emergency, that the young lad at right back was Arsenal through and through, and whilst good going forward, was often found out in defence.

They then went on a 10 minute discussion about the bench. Gnarby. Zelalem. Akpom. Had the been talking in cockney accents, it would have been normal. But in their American accents, it just showed to my friend how football was a truly global game.

With Facebook bringing fans together from around the world to discuss games. Twitter providing instant information. All 38 league games being available online. British newspaper’s being available online throughout the world. Add in podcasts and blogs -this blog gets a lot of readers from Scandanvia, there is plenty of information available throughout the world to educate the foreign fans, to whet there appetite.

Are we now in a time when foreign fans can no longer be labelled clueless, but are in fact the footballing intellectual equals of those from England?



28 thoughts on “Are foreign fans clueless?

  1. Louis Kay

    I’m from Australia and I watch the games live between 9:45pm and sometimes around 4am.. However I actually believe that no matter how much knowledge any foreign fan has compared to an English fan, it’s not quite enough in my eyes… To me, living/born in London and going to the games weekly just give you that extra ‘brownie points’ compared to anyone else in the world..

    1. deejay1952

      Thats true, but i choose to live in the Philippines, never miss a match due to vdo streaming with a 7hr time difference behind the UK. I unfortunately live in a country that worships basketball, the singularly most boring ‘game’ there is. If I was was rich enough, i’d buy up all the basketball teams / clubs in the world and close them down.

    2. Ashish Pagar

      What if you are living in london and can’t afford to purchase tickets to every game and had to resort to bars?

  2. Tai Obasi, Lagos

    When you say Arsenal without mentioning Nigeria fans, you haven’t started saying anything. And when you talk about education, then please visit Lagos, find yourself in a public viewing centre anywhere in Surulere and get the education of your life.

    In my own sincere rating, Nigerian Arsenal fans should be rated as topnotch and about the most passionate in the world!

    1. Henrys Cat

      Hi Tai me for one embraces all arsenal fans, myself i didnt get in to football until my girlfriend went to watch us play the pool i thought i will score brownie points i will watch it and talk about it when she comes back that night Micky Thomas need i say more have been in the red n white since as is my 5 year old son he gives me trouble if he has to wear his local club colours ” dad i dont like this its not red and white” hey ho we are a dynasty we are arsenal ;o)

    2. ayorinde funsho

      well said tai I am a diehard arsenal fan too, english fans need to come to nigeria and listen to football fans analyse their teams n I daresay the will be amed at the depth n wealth of info we have as football fans

  3. Chas

    I dont think we can label overseas fans as clueless, on the contrary i would label them as quite savy considering my hard earned goes to paying off Wenger and Gazides mortgage and theres doesnt.

    1. Fredrik

      That’s not entirely true. Were all paying members. And whenever we want to watch a game we pay up. Surely we can’t afford having a season ticket since all the travelling would quadruple the cost.

      The minimum amount of money it’d cost us Swedes to go watch ONE Arsenal game is around £400. I’d pay for a ST if I could watch every game but instead we all try to contribute as much as possible by paying for membership, buying stuff from the store and a couple of times a year, watch one or two games live.

  4. Jo

    Foreign fans like me use silly money to travel to see matches 🙂
    And thats because we love the Arsenal!!
    Norwegian Gunner

  5. nana panyin

    The only difference between foreing and english fans is that the english fan is just lucky….am in Ghana,never seen giroud,wilshere,cazorla,akpom,wenger….before but wake up every morning read arsenal news,blogs(untold,shewore,legrove,wrighty 7etc),twitter(following @geofarsenal,@shewore etc), watch every game(sneaked out of a cousins wedding to catch arsenal vrs blackburn) and defend my team against united nd chelsea fans in my country dream is 2 come nd watch my arsenal in real life which is something I knw wuld happen its unfair 4 any english fan 2 think they r better than us.they are only lucky……..I believe arsenal is in my blood and dream of an arsenal wife and kids watching a game at arshburton grove…I see myself equal to every die hard arsenal fan everywhere in the world.(Follow me @mefinchmclovin on twitter)

    1. Tai Obasi, Lagos

      Tell them again, my brother in Ghana…that’s exactly what we go through here in Nigeria. Wish Arsenal was based in Lagos…we would have taught the over critical English fans one thing or two about really supporting your team. The English press ganged up against a great club like Arsenal, partly because of Wenger…how far have the English-based Arsenal fans fought to counter the severe press attack? Let them try it in my country!

  6. HB Gooner

    Finally someone sticking up for us foreign fans. Thank you, from a diehard Arsenal fan in California. Some people don’t realize the dedication it takes to be a fan here. We are often waking up before 4:45 am ON OUR WEEKENDS to watch our team play… if that doesn’t show dedication then I don’t know what does.

    1. Henrys Cat

      Same to you my friend i appreciate an american who loves “soccer” not u mate you are of a higher intelligence of course you love the AFC ;o)

  7. Tariq Aziz

    Hi! Fellow Gunner’s.Am from kenya and i tell you 6 in every 10 people here is an Arsenal fan.Am an Arsenal fan since 2001 when i was ten year’s old.when i wake up the first thing i look in the internet is Arsenal and i it always the last thng i check before i go to bed.We are not clueless,we have the some passion as u guy’s if not more.KEEP THE FAITH ARSENAL FAITHFULS.

  8. whitesleeves

    It’s finally turned full circle, overseas fans claiming they are the real deal gooners compared to us hapless locals Me. I don’t understand foreign fans, Barcelona V Madrid , Inter v AC or some south asian derby means nothing to me as i’m not from there and can’t get my head why someone from Nigeria or Malaysia would get worked up about Arsenal v Tottenham

    1. ayorinde funsho

      I cant blame u sir, if football isnt a part of u, it cant be forced or explained to u….it something dat has to come from inside

    2. ImTheSlime

      I feel sorry for you if you can’t appreciate El Clasico because you aren’t from there. It’s like saying you can’t like The Beatles unless you are from Liverpool.

  9. hoseakahiga

    As a Kenyan living in Britain for the last 18 odd years, I will say that its taken too long for someone to say this.BTW other club fans are less tolerant than Gooners. God bless The Arsenal, fuck everybody else

  10. ImTheSlime

    First, thanks for this. I hope it’s as popular with the English readers as much as it is with the overseas readers.

    What I love about being an American Arsenal fan is the sense of being part of something that is truly global. I am in contact via Twitter or blogs with Gooners on five continents, each with unique views and experiences about a football team we all love, whether it’s because we grew up in the shadow of Highbury or for seemingly random and pedestrian reasons.

    I understand that there is a little lost in translation when you don’t live and breathe in the city in which the club resides, just like anywhere in the world. I wouldn’t expect foreign fans to truly understand the veritol of Duke-North Carolina or Yankees-Red Sox, or Arsenal-Tottenham, but I would welcome anyone from anywhere that would be willing to talk about it. It’s all about being part of world culture through the universal language of sport. People would do well to look beyond their own backyard and not have a locals only attitude.


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