Some interesting debate was thrown up by yesterday’s blog on foreign fandom. Firstly, the post was penned by a South African, I think he has every right to have an opinion on foreign fans because guess what, he is one. So all those idiots claiming xenophobia, bigotry… and even racism, get back in your outrage box and stop trivialising serious issues to get a reaction. However, if the post offended you, then I apologise. We’re here for debate, not upset.
Secondly, a guest post is a guest post. I don’t specify that all opinions have to match with mine. Do I think Cazorla is better than Cesc? Not in a million years. Do I think foreign fans and Arsenal’s globalisation has diluted hardcore support.
Well, yes and no.
Cut aside naive view points about fandom. Cut aside that this isn’t a nationality issue, this is a commitment, support and love thing. Here is a stone cold fact you can’t argue with.
‘Not everyone’s support of Arsenal is the same’
Ouch. Did that touch a nerve? I bet it did. Some of you in Australia or India might be fuming right now. But you needn’t be. You’re some of the hardcore. You’ve taken your interest beyond the main site. You’re so hungry for Arsenal news, you’re going out of your way to read a site that was up until lately, was quite hard to find (no Arsenal in the site name).
There are different levels of commitment though and different levels of love for the club. This is where people can get tetchy, but this is the same for all fans, so wipe away the rage tears and bear with me.
My relationship with the club as a season ticket holder is different than someone who is not a season ticket holder. It’s accepted in England, that you’re pretty hardcore if you go to games. If you’re in a bar and someone asks you who you support… the question after is always ‘are you a season ticket holder?’… why? Because it’s a statement about your level of commitment. Now, you can pretend that’s not true… but you’d be lying to yourself. We all do it… except with United fans, when the general question is, ‘have you ever been?’.
The level up from that is away support. Now, I’m a season ticket holder, a blogger, an AST member, a podcaster and an Arsenal media whore… and I fully accept that fans who go to all the away games are more hardcore than me. That doesn’t offend me. It doesn’t upset me. It’s just a fact. Those boys and girls dedicate their life to the club with money and time to a level I could never match. Both types of fan still love the club, one group is just more committed.
This stretches out to the hardcore foreign supporters, like Chris Toronyi from the Arsenal America Podcast. He loves the club, he decks his boy out in the kit, he talks about Arsenal all day, he podcasts weekly about the games and he flies over here to catch games. That’s not diluted support, that’s adding to the hardcore. He’s as committed as he can be. He’s spreading the message of Arsenal globally and making big sacrifices along the way.
There are fans who can’t afford to do that that are hardcore because they get up at three in the morning on a Tuesday to catch the games. You have the guys in New York who meet up at supporter clubs. African fans are some of the craziest on the planet. Our blog has a huge Indian / Pakistani following. These guys are committed in a different way. It’s not better or worse, but it has to be recognised that it’s different.
I quite often get told people like to read my blog because I go to the games. In fact, when renewals come up and people talk about whether they’re doing it… quite often they say to me, ‘well, you have no choice’… and it’s true. I wouldn’t give up my season ticket regardless, but I think this site would lose an edge if I wasn’t there. However, there’s no difference between seeing on a stream versus seeing it live. But people rank it differently.
However, this is why I agree that social media and globalisation dilutes football fandom. Because simple, rational thought dictates it does. You can’t tell me all the Asian fans who attended our last tour share than same passion for the club as someone who watches every game be it on the box or in the ground. There are casual fans, hardcore foreign fans, casual UK fans… there’s a whole mix. One thing there is not is a standardised passion globally for Arsenal… and please, don’t think I’m saying the Asian tour didn’t fire up a raft of hardcore fans. If Arsenal Indonesia Twitter feed retweets something I write… it continues to spread for about 3 days after.
… and that’s my take on it. If you’re hardcore, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. That’s what you are. But lets not sugar coat that all Arsenal fans are hardcore, because they’re not and let’s accept that there are different levels of commitment, love and knowledge of the club. All fans are important though. If you can turn casual foreign fans into paid members, you might move them into more serious fans who buy merchandise. If we can convert causal teenage supporters into season ticket holders, you’ve got yourself a lifetime season ticket holder. The point is though, that you can be hardcore from anywhere in the world… just as you could be an armchair fan living on Gillespie Road.
All fans are important if we’re to develop as a club and an inclusive approach to global fans is hugely important to that. That’s both the clubs approach, but the UK fan base as well. That works both ways. Being told you’re a bad supporter by someone who has only supported the club three minutes is just a offensive as being told your opinion isn’t important because you’re from Canada. What is apparent is social media and the web has given the club huge exposure which allows it to attract £35m shirt sponsorship deals. It’s win win for everyone. It’s a global community and no one fan group is responsible for some of the classless things that are said on Twitter… however, it is our job as fans to round on people who take disgusting comments to players too far… but that’s a social problem rather than a football specific one.
… so let’s not get started on that.
Anyway, that’s my take on it all…
Onto yesterday’s games. They didn’t go well for is. Spurs continued to wrack up points and pressure. Stoke went one up early on from some shoddy set piece defending. They managed to pull the game back after a Begovic communication cock up and an Adebayor tap in ten minutes from time.
That means Wigan tomorrow has even more importance. Most professional pundits are wondering where Wigan will get the energy from and I am too. The worry I have is ten days off might lead to a rusty performance. I also don’t like the way a Wigan win tees up the last game of the season. Sunderland play Spurs, Wigan play relegation battlers Villa. Hopefully we can just relegate them tomorrow with a great performance. The fans are going to play a huge part in the game… we certainly can’t afford to be rusty.
Good news is Newcastle are safe and Alan Pardew said he didn’t care what happened against us now, the green light for player slack off. Very professional.
In other news, an Ashley Williams hash up at the back for Swansea gave he credence to his Arsenal transfer a little bump up. Jokes aside he’s a very good defender, many saying he could be our Sol Campbell. That would be nice…
Wayne Rooney and his story took another twist yesterday. He put in a transfer request and asked to be dropped from the United team yesterday. What a sulky brat eh? Personal tastes aside… who wouldn’t want to play the last home game of the season… for a manager who gave you a career on his last game? All very sulky… still, if he wants out and he wants a new challenge, I wouldn’t say no. I think Arsenal feel the same.
Would they sell domestically? Would we match or better his wages? Maybe… watch this space. Arsenal are interested.
In other, slightly more curve ball transfer talk. 27 year old Falcao has agreed to join Monaco for £50m on a £157k pw take home pay packet. Incredible eh? I’d love to know how Monaco’s commercial revenues will handle FFP. Falcao is sure to enjoy the spicy atmosphere the 18000 capacity stadium throws up. Apparently Cavani might end up there… amazing that the Oligarchal business model has made its way to France (I know it’s not technically France) of all places.
Rights, that’s your lot. See you in the comments.