Dienstag, 1. März 2016

How to support a plastic club

You shouldn't, of course.
Plastic clubs are a waste of passion. They have money in abundance, so they can buy their fans as well as their players. They don't need you, your enthusiasm, your voice, your flag, your love. They're just after your money.
In Bundesliga Bayern Munich is the plastic club par excellence. Even their own fans hate them. Or so I've been told. Like Barcelona they have their most enthusiastic fans on the internet or the other side of the globe.
But - fairness first - Bayern isn't really a plastic club. They have tradition, were founded in 1900, worked their way up in Bundesliga and in Europe until they became plastic enough to set up an office in New York. If they're plastic, they're oak effect.

A plastic club is a mockery of the real thing. Anybody with a bank account and an ego huge enough can manufacture one. You are a Russian billionaire, a Qatari sheikh or a German software developer bored and looking for a new spare time activity which is tax-deductible (at least in the beginning)? Why not design a football club? Buy the best! Player, manager, venue, colours, logo, merchandising, fans ...China makes it possible for you in no time. You can even chuck your aged players there in the dusk of their careers. Plastic clubs are global players.

Plastic clubs don't have fans, they have customers. These people expect the club's owner to arrange for good weather for matchdays, special program for the kids, and a good result should be guaranteed anyway. You don't pay €50 a seat to see a draw.
Plastic clubs have plastic fans. They don't want the other kind. They don't want fans who start yelling on top of their lungs when things go wrong on the pitch or climb the fence when they don't. They don't like passion shown so blatantly. They don't want love, they want entertainment.
So, there is really no reason why anyone who calls himself a football lover should support a plastic club.
Except it happens.

It grows on you. Creeps up in the night like a cold. You sneeze once the first day, twice the next. Soon you'll start looking for a hankie.
First you start noticing their results, then reluctantly stream a match, but tell yourself you're just casually interested. Or you like to watch good football for a change since your local team breaks the european record for being bottom of the table with hardly any points. Or you just want to see if they're really worth the millions they have cost.
And then you see them pay. You realize there IS something of higher class to this team. They are paid in a month what your team invests in one year, they are evil, they are nouveau-riches, but they do play a fucking good football.
You're not yet a supporter, by no means. You just took the opportunity to make up your own mind from watching them play yourself instead of listening to Twitter comments. You're being objevtive. You still hate them. At least when asked.
Then comes the day you first realise a small drooping of spirit when you hear they lost. When you first encounter difficulties joining the others in joyful ranting. Ha,ha, the plastic club has lost! There's still justice under the crossbar. And you find yourself worrying whose fault it was.
Take an aspirin. It will get worse.

The day you're on your way seeing them play life for the first time is the day you are lost. 

You will realise that the plastic club is all the evil things you know it to be, but it's also a very real football club.

 Its players run and sweat and swear and celebrate like yours at home. 

And the plastic fans are more different than they look from afar waving their sponsored flags. There are gnarled old fans who were there before the sponsors came, and kids just shy of toddler-age who blurt out the names of the players in alphabetical order, shiny eyed and in an obscenely expensive shirt, but the shine in the eyes is priceless and genuine. And you remember the fair-weather fans at home who leave the stands at a comfortable 3:0, who don't even sing when the team is winning, and realize that sometimes the plastic is not in the clubs but in the people.

One day you will catch yourself saying „we“ when you speak of the plastic club. 

You nervously touch your arm. It's no more plastic than before. You're still a football fan made of flesh and blood, and you just found yourself supporting a plastic club.

Allez Paris Saint-Germain!

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