AWs fans want passion
All Whites fans are promising plenty of passion in their support of the team, but are not going to enter into the ‘‘battle’’ New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin is asking them to wage.
Martin urged New Zealanders to ditch their normal friendly welcome when Peru arrive for the first leg of the World Cup playoff at Westpac Stadium on November 11. He went as far as to liken the game to a war.
Those sentiments were met with dismay in both New Zealand and Peru, with a Peruvian human rights law professor going as far as to pen an open letter to express how disheartened he was by the comments.
The All Whites have a fan group called the White Noise. One of their members, Tracey Hodge, said there would be no hostility towards Peru from them.
‘‘It might have come from a good place, but everyone took it badly,’’ she said of Martin’s comments.
‘‘I think we want to use the word passionate more than anything. They’re going to have passionate fans, we need to be passionate and show our support for our team.
‘‘Not having a go at the other team, but supporting our own team. Positive support rather than negative support.
‘‘People won’t respect us if we’re hostile.’’
So how should Kiwis show that passion?
Well, fellow White Noise member Dale Warburton wanted to see another ‘‘White Out’’ of Westpac Stadium, which happened in 2009 and 2013 when the All Whites took on Bahrain and Mexico respectively in those playoff matches.
‘‘The last two playoffs the stadium turned from yellow to white and it looked like quite a spectacle on the night. So we want everyone to dress in white, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing.
‘‘Fashion goes out the window, you just find what you can. Whether that’s a boiler suit or some kind of costume we just want
I think we want to use the word passionate more than anything. People won’t respect us if we’re hostile. Tracey Hodge
a sea of white to create a bit of atmosphere that way.
‘‘The other one is to get involved vocally. The best thing about the Bahrain game was everyone joined in from aisle one to aisle 36. Everyone left their inhibitions at the door and got stuck in. We want to see that, it could be a record football crowd in New Zealand and that creates an opportunity to set a new baseline for atmosphere and passion in the stadium.’’
Fewer than 1500 tickets remain for the extended capacity of 38,000 for the match.
That includes roughly 1000 Peruvian fans, who will be sure to bring the noise with a mixture of chanting, drums and trumpets.
Warburton said the strong presence of the away fans would only be a good thing for the atmosphere, but it was up to the home fans to ensure their team had the advantage.
‘‘They’ll bring their own kind of unique fandom and the way they support their team.
‘‘That really gives us some encouragement to outdo them and compete with them to make the most noise and essentially try drown them out and create an atmosphere that ensures home advantage is maximised.’’
While a win for Peru would mean a lot to their fans, given they have not been to a World Cup since 1982, another visit to a World Cup for the All Whites could create another generation of diehard fans. The 2009 win over Bahrain secured the All Whites a spot at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and started a long-term love affair with football for Hodge.
‘‘After that playoff was when I decided to go to South Africa. I had very little involvement in football before that.
‘‘The Bahrain win spurred me to go to South Africa and that’s when I met these clowns [White Noise] and from there my football experience has just grown.’’
Really, that’s what this playoff should be about for New Zealand Football, creating another generation of All Whites fans.
The White Noise fan group want Kiwi fans to find their voice during the World Cup playoff at Westpac Stadium.