Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chinese football fans

Are rather annoying.

Because they're almost all Manchester United fans.

Of course they are. Because that's about the only team they've ever heard of.

One of the main things I - and most sentient football fans around the world - hate about Man U is that they are so over-promoted, so unremittingly commercialized. They are the McDonald's of the game: people don't seem to care whether the product is shite or not, because the marketing is so overwhelming.

OK, so, with Man U, the product isn't shite: they do play very attractive football, and they are deserved champions this season. But the relentlessness of their advertising and the smug sense of entitlement that seems to fester at the core of their 'brand'..... and the fact that 99% of their fans don't know their arse from their elbow when it comes to football is utterly infuriating.

I fear this ignorance of the game is likely to be especially severe here in China. Football was scarcely played here at all until the 1980s, I believe. They didn't get a professional league going until the early 1990s. When I first visited in the mid-90s, there was still fairly little overseas football appearing on TV here (only a few random highlights, and a very, very occasional complete game). And even today, coverage of the European leagues and cup competitions is sparse and inconsistent on the domestic terrestrial channels: you can't really 'follow' football unless you have an (illegal) satellite hook-up...... and not many Chinese do. Few of these Chinese fans, I suspect, really know much about the history of the game in England, or even about the history of their adopted club (beyond the very recent past, that is - most of them, I'm sure, don't even know about the struggle of Fergie's early years at the club, much less of the brief glory days of Georgie Best or the tragic loss of the Busby Babes). A fair few of them know absolutely fuck-all about the game, period.

So, it was particularly vexing to have to try to watch the climax (sorry, anti-climax) of the Premier League season last Sunday in a room full of gloating, braying, Chinese Manchester United fans (who would keep standing up and obscuring the big projection screen at the slightest excuse - every time one of their heroes had a particularly petulant moment with the ref, every time Ronaldo fell over, every time Sir Alex stood up to needle the linesman about something.....).

All football fans can be pretty obnoxious, particularly when they are gathered together in a large group. Manchester United fans are especially objectionable, because they are for the most part dupes of a massive marketing campaign rather than discerning lovers of the game. And Chinese Manchester United fans........ well, I reach for my revolver........


The British Cowboy said...

I agree with regard to Manure fans. Oddly enough though, I find myself getting more annoyed in the State by the fans who DO know a lot about the game. Petulant of me, I know. And in my limited experience, they have tended to be Arsenal fans...

My problem is that the knowledge is so obviously rote learned. They know about the incredible 1979 final vs Manure not because they saw it, but because they have learned about it. Yet they speak about it with great reverance.

I guess football should be learned about through some sort of osmosis. It isn't something that can be read about in books of statistics. I am sure that is true of all sports - though it would be a rare occasion indeed for an American to wax lyrically to me about Bob Willis' 8-fer at Headingly in 1981 (remember who took the other two wickets?) without having been hunkered down in front of a TV set, heart in mouth, refusing to believe what was unfolding in front of your eyes.

Froog said...

Ah, no, it's gone a bit misty in the memory now.

Underwood was great for mopping up tail-enders, but I suspect he never got to bowl in that innings (if he was even playing in that one).

Wasn't one of them a Run Out? Did Dilley bag one?? Help.

The British Cowboy said...

He wasn't playing. I know Chris Old got Border. I believe Botham got Yallop, though I would not swear to it.

The British Cowboy said...

Botham got Wood. (Ooooh Errr Missus).

I was right in remembering it was the first wicket of the innings. For some reason I thought Yallop was the opener.