I dragged V to the footie yesterday. Yes, as weird as this sounds me – the wife – dragged her husband to a football game. While V did not say no when I got free tickets (which is the only reason I was going) I got the sense he would rather be on the couch especially when we had to trek all the way to the stadium in the heat .
On the way there I suddenly had this horrible feeling that I had box tickets which would mean A/C comfort, exclusivity and free drinks so why did I not want this – because the thought of schmoozing with bankers especially without the comfort of alcohol (to be avoided because of tummy crashing) makes me sick to the stomach. Thankfully our seats were outside – in the heat (which for a brief moment miffed me because why did I not have not have box tickets but then I was comforted to see that even the guys from FT and Reuters were sitting out in the heat so there was no discrimination there).
The match was between Liverpool and Portsmouth (who I have never heard of). Basically the premier league gets these fancy teams down here to play local teams – and complete demoralize them – in order to draw in the fans. Because like everyone else they’ve realized that this is where the market is.
And what a market it is. The stadium was packed with Chinese in Liverpool shirts gamely clapping for the least thing. They clapped and roared while the players took practice shots, they clapped when anyone at all came on the field, they clapped when a shot of the CEO was flashed on the big screen. They clapped even when nothing was happening. The simplicity of these fans amazes me – and they are already deeply consumerist so for the premier league it’s a match made in heaven.
The players themselves – who did not include any names that I recognized so clearly they had sent their reserve team if that – were full of attitude, jogging onto the pitch smilesssly like they were too good for this crowd.
Were they ever NOT! The match itself was hilarious. As V put it: “This is like college level football”. The players seemed unable to pass to each other properly, they were unmotivated and clumsy. When they finally began to try for a goal, they missed even the easiest shots. At one point, one of the guys went to kick the ball and actually fell down. Too funny! After a point, even the crowd stopped cheering.
I could only compare these easily satisfied fans to our rebellious Indian ones (admittedly and thankfully we’re not as bad as the Brits who take their erm enthusiasm a bit too far). Indian fans would have been grumbling when they saw the player list itself. Then when they saw the dismal play they would have begun booing (the Chinese fans booed only once when it was really obvious that the players were wasting time) and finally, they would have begun throwing bottles at the field. And for once, I would have thought they deserved it. Because most people had paid a lot of money for these tickets and the least they deserved to watch was decent, if not spectacular, football. The arrogance of it all pissed me off.
We left as soon as the first half was over – after pushing ourselves to stay for even that long. 11 minutes into the game had begun to feel like hours. So much for that.