Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The problem with Malaysian football fans

Now before you bite my head of thinking that I am making fun of all football fans, you are wrong. I am just amused with a large portion of wannabe football fans.

The term “lalang” always comes to mind when talking about football fans in Malaysia. Here’s an example, if you have been following football fans like I do in Malaysia, here is a simple thing I have realized. 5 years ago, how many people did you see wearing a Chelsea jersey out? Probably close to none. But they win the premiership and guess what? A sea of blue jerseys at your favorite mamak come game night. Most of which were purchased at your local pasar malam.

2 years ago while watching the world cup, I was watching the game between France and Brazil. The final score was 1 – 0 to France. Being a France fan I was overjoyed that the win put them through the finals and also beating one of the best teams in the world. The joy was shared with my friend Alex, who was standing on top of the table screaming profanities at the other team fans and yelling out words which I can only believe was his attempt to scream french words. I also think I saw a tear in his eye. He was hugging me and telling me that he has been waiting for this day for years, ever since the victory in ’88.

A week later at the final between France and Italy, I decided to watch it at your local pub to feel the enjoyment of it all. With my France scarf, I watched as my beloved france score the first goal, but was equalized soon after.

It was down to penalty kicks and when David Trezeguet stepped up I felt a churning in my stomach. He missed and the game was over. Already down and very upset, I felt a jab on my right arm and a voice going “Hahahahah Viva la Italia!!”. It’s Alex laughing his brains out, and jeering me. Screaming profanities at France and professing his years of love for Italy. First of all my dear friend Alex, the phrase “Viva La” is reserved for France, and even I know the cheer for Italy would have been “Forza Italia”.

From that day onwards I decided to play attention to new football fans, and to see what sort of weird things they would do to prove that they love their team.

Being a radio dj, I sometimes get calls from listeners that call to put down my team. This is all fine by me because part of the love of the game is the banter that goes on between fans. Then came that fateful day when Manchester United took away the 50th unbeaten run from my beloved Arsenal. All the calls I got the next time I was on air was tremendous. It got to a point where I could not take it anymore. This one guy who has called me at least 6 times was being relentless. So I asked him how long he has been supporting MU. He replied with “I love MU, they are the best team in the world, there is no other team that I love more” Which I continued with “So if you love your team so much, what is the name of their 2nd string goalkeeper?”. The reply was “Barthez”. And he hung up. Fabian Barthez had left the team 2 years before. And this sort of made me feel better.

It seems like there are these groups of people who decide on a weekly basis which team to support. They probably have fake jerseys of the top 4 teams which they carry along with them and decide which one to put on during half time.

I think that in Malaysia, we are still young and therefore finding out mentality even to the point we are still finding our football teams. But our problem is that we support a team that we can use to put someone else down. It’s probably peer pressure or just the joy of knowing that you can spend a good Saturday night jumping for joy with the rest of the city, even though you don’t know the names of your entire first string line-up

It’s these people that tick the real football fans off. Which I know in Malaysia are a plenty. And to these people I take my hat off to you. No matter win or lose, you still support and love your team.

Football is a passion and I wish all the football fans, good luck with your premiership season and “Viva La Arsenal!”


GOONER said...

Very well written Pietro.

In that sense, I was just telling another Arsenal supporter the other day that if there is one good thing that is coming out of Arsenal's current form, we can separate the chaff from the true Arsenal supporters.

Already I see the nonsense some so-called fans write in to our Arsenal-My@yahoogroups forum.


GOONER for Life!
Malaysian forever!

Ubi said...

wohoo..its been a long time since i read ur blog =)

I agree pietro. I myself encountered the same experience many many times & most of them coming from my friends.

These people just use it as an excuse to follow the current "in thing" in football.