Whether you are travelling across the country to see your beloved team or watching from home with your feet up, does it make a difference in terms of being classed a ‘true’ football fan?
Football inherits a rare capability of captivating supporters from all over the world and English football has become widely globalised.
It has become so well-known across the world that countries such as China contain fans who follow English clubs with a passion – and it is more common than you think.
Betway Soccer have produced an excellent documentary, Over Land and Sea, which tells a heart-warming story of Pan, a West Ham United supporter who was born and lives in Shanghai, China.
But can he be considered as a true fan?
In the documentary, Pan reveals how he became a fan of the Hammers and why he chose to support a mid-table English club opposed to the global giants like Manchester United or Liverpool.
The China-based follower also opens up about his love for the club and the lengths he goes to follow West Ham.
West Ham participated in the Premier League Asia Trophy in July but suffered a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in their opening encounter, despite taking the lead in the first half. Over Land and Sea also includes contributions from two local fans who travelled from London to Shanghai to watch the Hammers participate in the pre-season tournament.
People often support a football club by following in the footsteps of their family. Times are changing, however, and millions of fans across the world are choosing to support teams from other countries – the Premier League is an excellent example of a global-supporting competition.
Despite not regularly attending matches or being involved with the match-day experience, global fans outside the UK can still inherit the same, if not more passion for the club.
Not only does the documentary unveil the life of an overseas supporter, it also contains exclusive contributions from captain Mark Noble, Declan Rice – who made his England debut in March – and former Premier League winner Pablo Zabaleta.
Pan chose to support West Ham based on a computer game, Football Manager, back in 2005. Global supporters are attracted to English clubs because of their rich history and impact on the sport. Football in China is not rifled with history and many fans look to English football to discover that.
England won the World Cup in 1966 and the team contained Hammers players such as Bobby Moore, the captain of the squad, and Geoff Hurst – who scored a hat-trick in the final against Germany. Pan saw this and decided that West Ham was a club he was passionate about and his loyalty for the London-based side is excellent, despite living so far away.
It is not just about attending matches regularly that makes you a ‘true’ fan. This documentary highlights how passion and loyalty come in different ways.
The phrase ‘true football fan’ is a strange concept where supporters attempt to place themselves above others. People support the club in different ways and in the documentary, Pan demonstrates exactly how you can be a ‘true’ fan despite being absent from the country West Ham participate in.