Sunday, September 26

Premier League: In fan stuff, ‘England is different’ | sports

Chelsea fans protesting outside Stamford Bridge the night the Super League fell.
Chelsea fans protesting outside Stamford Bridge the night the Super League fell.ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

Spain is different, said the Franco regime to promote tourism in the sixties. In football, the different is England. So it should come as no surprise that it was the English fans who have ruined the Super League in 48 hours. Why? Because football in England is much more than football, much more than results, much more than business figures or being or not being a champion. As Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool manager, said: “There are people who believe that football is a matter of life and death. I assure you that it is something much more important than that ”. Football, bloody hell (translatable as Football, scary!), Alex Ferguson managed to stammer to explain the two stoppage time goals that gave Manchester United the Champions League against Bayern in 1999 (2-1).

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The Premier League is the most famous league in the world, the richest without a doubt, but it is not the money or the game that makes it special: it is the fans. People here are not from the big club or from the fashion team, they are from your lifelong team. The stadiums are full and the fans do not go to the field to insult the opposing players or to mess with the referee. Going to football is a ritual that invites you to follow the team wherever it plays or to go to the stadium a couple of hours before the game to have a few pints.

In English stadiums he socializes. Yes, it is drunk, but the horrible times of hooliganism are over, whose existence may have little to do with football and a lot to do with racism and social inequalities in England at the time. In English stadiums you drink but the rules are the same for everyone: no one can drink and watch the game at the same time. Or one thing or the other. In Spain, on the other hand, fans are prohibited from drinking alcohol (a paternalism that collides with the tendency to create large recreational spaces in stadiums to attract fans), but in the box of authorities it is possible.

The differential fact of the chants

That may seem anecdotal, but it is at the heart of the way football is felt in England: equality. Namely, fair play. That is why it is not surprising that the followers of the teams that were to profit from the Super League were the first to rise up against them: because it benefited a few and harmed others. It is the same feeling that makes the fans not go to the stadium to whistle at the rival, but to sing. Sing to cheer on your team, to celebrate victories, to console yourself in defeats … or to make fun of rival fans.

The chants are a differential fact of English football. It is deeply depressing to compare that spontaneous atmosphere with the artificial continental cheer stands, driven to create atmosphere on television and incidentally to silence the whistles on bad days, and which are destroying one of the most powerful weapons that a crowd has to express its disappointment by what you are seeing: silence.

That is why in England no foul is claimed every time a player of their own falls to the ground and what a fan despises the most are swimming pools. And perhaps also because of all that, Stamford Bridge is owned by Chelsea fans and not by the club; United fans created an alternative club (FC United of Manchester) when the Glazers bought it in 2005, and Pep Guardiola considered it “a pleasure” to play a Cup match at Cheltenham, although his players had to change at the bar: “ We changed at the bar when we were children and we played delightedly ”. “The only thing I ask of Cheltenham is that they do not leave beers in the bar before the game,” joked the Premier’s first coach who would dare to deny the Super League these days.

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