What is it like to follow European football in Australia?

What is it like to follow European football in Australia?

Football stadiums all over Europe are packed with thousands of supporters every week. Often, these fans are credited with making the difference between a team’s wins and losses.

However, the trend of supporting nonlocal sports teams is on the rise. It is common for clubs to have fans from outside their region, often in other countries.

Even being thousands of miles apart is not an obstacle. Modern broadcasting and social media allow fans to interact and merge with their club’s identities.

Трубочисты Петербурга

On this week’s episode of Football Now, we spoke to Australian fans to understand what motivates them to support their teams from a distance. Australia is around 14,000km away from Europe. And yet, the fans in this part of the world are just as devoted as those living locally to stadiums in Madrid, Manchester or Munich.

Matt Coleman has extensive experience covering European football for Fox Sports Australia and has seen first-hand just how devoted these fans can be.

«It’s not just the match-going fans that are of vital importance to clubs. Now that they have these big global footprints and whether in the Americas, Australia, or Asia, clubs appeal to people all around the world.» explained Matt. «The big brands have clubs that people can support, whether they have ties to their homeland or not, which is of vital importance for these teams all across Europe.»

The 2023/24 Premier League season resumed in August, and for league fans in Australia, this means staying up for a typical late-night kick-off time. In the heart of Sydney, Cheers Bar is the home of Australia’s biggest Liverpool Supporters Club. On the night of their team’s first home game of the season against Bournemouth, Joey Harb told Football Now what it’s like being a fan from a distance.

It’s a superb atmosphere. All the supporters can mix. It’s kind of like Anfield away from Anfield. Yes, the late starts are a pain when it comes to work, but we love it.

Liverpool fans at LFC Supporters Club NSW

Liverpool are one of the world’s most followed clubsJon Super/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

The Premier League and other European leagues have been popular down under for decades. As a result of the Women’s World Cup being hosted there for the first time, general public interest in the sport increased significantly. Record viewing figures and attendances proved the number of fans watching was higher than ever.

Former Socceroos captain Craig Foster believes Football Australia should take advantage of the momentum and divert attention to local Aussie teams.

«The problem that countries like ours have is, and we see this across Asia in many areas, that support is so big that it can dwarf the local domestic competition. It can be difficult for the domestic competition to compete with that fanbase because if you’re watching Liverpool every week, it’s very different from watching a domestic competition.»

«And because we don’t have 50-100 years of history in our own domestic clubs, we’re still trying to build that. So, the challenge that the game has in Australia is to translate fandom and support for football, Socceroos, Matildas, Champions League, EPL, La Liga into people in the stadia and memberships for our domestic competition.» Craig concluded.

Many Australian footballers have played top-flight football in Europe over the years. Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglu has made an excellent start to his Spurs career, winning five of his first seven Premier League games.

Ange Postecoglu has captured the hearts of Spurs fansJon Super/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Meanwhile, former Everton midfielder Tim Cahil is now the Chief Sports Officer of Qatar’s Aspire Academy in Doha. He made 226 appearances during his eight years at Goodison Park. Elsewhere on Merseyside, Harry Kewell became the only Australian to win the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005. The general public also voted him as Australia’s greatest-ever footballer in 2012.

From a European perspective, it’s fantastic for these clubs to have a fanbase that spans all over the globe. Clearly, these supporters play a role in the growth of a club that’s just as big as the locals. After the success of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, this popularity may transfer over to the domestic Australian teams.


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