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  • Writer's pictureMarie Arnaudon

SUPPORTERS: A love-hate relationship

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Supporters are a huge part of the football world. However, football fans do not have the best reputation due to historical events  that shook the sport.

This created fear amongst the public opinions and authorities that violence will be a part of every football game. Football is here to make people dream. The sombreros of Ronaldinho, the free-kicks of Robert Carlos, the panenka of Zidane, all those skills made the kids dream about and we all have an idol in the football world. Even when the teams lose, supporters are beside their team.

The supporter phenomenon is explained by the role that plays football in our everyday life now.

True supporters would give everything for their team and country. They are the soul of the stadium and the most important person for the players after their families. Football is more than a game in today’s World.  Here comes the distinction between supporters and extremists. How has the vision of Football fans changed since 1980 ?

The worst thing to know is that those people came to see us and never came back home”  Michel Platini

Several historical events have played a role in the change of visions of football fans. On the 29th of May 1985, Juventus Turin was against Liverpool Fc for the final of European Cup. A great football game was expected, however the most expected due was the one between the Italians tifosis and Liverpool’s supporters. Both English and Italians started to taunt each other by throwing projectiles. To avoid this fighting arena, people gathered on the other side of the stand. They tried to access the playing field but they were going against the police pressure in the stands. Under the peoples’ pressure, a wall came down and killed 41 people. All of these events  took place before the game  and the players of both teams  were not aware of the situation in the stand. The game ended with a short win by Juventus Turin. This led to a three-year-ban of English's clubs from the European Championships.

Supporters, through the use of foggers and firecrackers, put themselves and others in harm’s way. The French Football championship has a famous example of that.

 Anthony Lopes, the Olympique Lyonnais Goalkeeper has been victim of that. During a championship game against Fc Metz, he received from home fans a firecracker near him. He was unable to play for a week however the risk of irreversible damage to his eardrums but nothing happened.  The Eastern club received a heavy fine after that: minus two points on the official ranking and was forced to play a game behind closed doors.

Players have suffered hate crimes . Although people might consider it a past phenomenon, it is still very important and it has to be addressed by the sports’ authorities and governments from around the world.

The England-Bulgaria game is one of the many examples of racist abuses in football. The English team was playing one of its qualifying game for the Euro 2020 (it occurred before the covid-19 crisis). Home fans did nazis salutes and mocked the black English players. The game was interrupted multiple times and the supporters were asked to stop. Gareth Southgate, the English manager asked his players if they wanted to continue and England won the game 6-0.

The Covid-19 has forced the stadiums to be closed for the public. This helped the world to understand the essential role that  fans play in the football industry. From the simple role of supporting to investors, the fans make football nowadays.

The increasing role of women in football nowadays has increased the feminine public that has interest in football. Women are now fighting in the most oppressive countries for their right to access a stadium. That is notably the case in Saudi Arabia.

More so, in general, in some countries the support around football is only living through the biggest competitions. In France, football is more criticized by the public during the season while there is a general interest from the public during the big competitions.

“Supporters are the most sincere and beautiful thing in the football” Marco Veratti

Supporters are a huge part of the football world. The Covid-19 crisis helped to emphasize the idea that the fans more than being simple fans they actually play a role in the way the football economy works.

The supporters are the soul of the stadium. They are the one that make the walls of the stadium alive. They are the one that push the players beyond their limits.

There is no great team without great supporters. Players need supporters. They need to feel a united public behind them.  The relation creates a sort of trust that the players need to fulfill towards the supporters . They need to feel that the people trust them and they will do their best to prove that they are the true heir of this trust. The social role that football has in France is not to be understated. The games represent a get away moment where the supporters can forget about their difficulties  during 90 minutes.

Many cities around the world are known for their public and the commitments of their fans during the game.  La Bombenera in Argentina is one of those stadiums known for the crazy atmosphere that surrounds every game.  The Iduna Park In Dortmund is known for its famous Yellow Wall.

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