Soc­cer fans have the right to fol­low the league of their own choos­ing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

THERE are some among us who from time to time heap the same scorn and crit­i­cism on those who pre­fer the English Premier­ship to the Absa Premier­ship.

The crit­i­cisms don’t nor­mally carry much in­tel­lec­tual sub­stance or un­der­stand­ing of the big­ger pic­ture, and are nor­mally based on “be­ing un­pa­tri­otic” or “fail­ing a duty”, or “Euro­cen­tric” or, yawn, “racist”.

Of course, it’s a two-way street, for those who pre­fer the English Premier­ship to the do­mes­tic league, will point to Kaizer Chiefs sup­port­ers rip­ping up chairs and throw­ing bot­tles onto New­lands.

That in it­self is im­ma­ture and off the mark, for gen­er­ally speak­ing, South Africa’s club fol­low­ers are among the best be­haved.

Though there still has to be an ed­u­ca­tional process with re­gards to al­lo­cated seat­ing for in­stance, some­thing that the World Cup next year will go a long way to ad­dress­ing.

How­ever, ev­ery young player in this coun­try as­pires to play­ing in the best league in the world, against and along­side the best foot­ballers. And be­cause of the lan­guage, Eng­land is an ob­vi­ous des­ti­na­tion, though more of­ten than not the step­ping stones are the less glam­orous Euro­pean leagues.

Foot­ball in Eng­land how­ever, is much more than a game. It’s an ex­ten­sion of who peo­ple are. You only have to spend one day in Eng­land to re­alise how huge foot­ball is – and it’s far big­ger than in South Africa.

Ev­ery na­tional news­pa­per and ev­ery re­gional news­pa­per will rather cover the back page (and a few in­side) with foot­ball, even at the ex­pense of Ashes cricket, World Cham­pi­onship ath­let­ics and the like. They do so be­cause the pub­lic de­mands the sat­u­rated cov­er­age.

In South Africa that isn’t the case, as rugby and cricket also vie strongly for col­umn cen­time­tres.

Such cov­er­age in­evitably spills over onto the in­ter­net, onto the TV sta­tions and onto Face­book and Twit­ter feeds.

Any­one who is part of the screen gen­er­a­tion won’t be able to get through a day without English foot­ball catch­ing the eye. Again, that’s not the case with the Absa Premier­ship, so, whether you like it or not, there’s a drip-drip in­ges­tion of the league in Eng­land.

It might be the same sport, but it’s like com­par­ing rugby union and rugby league. The game is the same, the rules are dif­fer­ent. But they can co-ex­ist, be­cause al­though some­one prefers league to union doesn’t make him or her a sell-out to rugby.

So, the fact that I pre­fer the English Premier­ship to the Absa Premier­ship doesn’t make me a traitor to South Africa or “Euro­cen­tric”.

If I had a choice, I would pre­fer to at­tend an English Premier­ship match as op­posed to its South African cousin be­cause of the ex­pe­ri­ence.

I go to a game want­ing to be en­ter­tained, want­ing to join in with the an­tics of the crowd, want­ing to es­cape for 90 min­utes and then want­ing to go have a beer.

In Eng­land, one of the great­est sights (and sounds) is a set of club fans squar­ing up against an­other set, not in terms of fists and feet, but with their wit.

They chant their way through the en­tire game and if you lis­ten closely you will hear some­thing that will have you split your sides with laugh­ter.

In South Africa, such wit and chant­ing isn’t part of the oc­ca­sion; here it’s more a case of stick a Vu­vuzela to your lips and blow. In rugby, it’s ei­ther at­tempt­ing a Mex­i­can Wave or singing “ole, ole, ole”.

We might be pas­sion­ate about our sport but we aren’t the most in­ven­tive when it comes to chant­ing. But while it’s point­less com­par­ing the two Leagues, it’s just as point­less for Absa Premier­ship groupies to crit­i­cise those who pre­fer the English Premier­ship.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.