Football is the most popular game in the world, with over a billion fans spread all over the globe. With the emergence of the ISL – a well-publicized league which has helped the popularity of the game in India immensely, there has been a huge growth spurt in the number of Indians who display interest in football.
Not everyone with interest in the game has a lasting affection for it, however, and there is no dearth of people who are not fans but pretend to like it. While it would not be right to pass judgement on them just for not liking a game, football fans always enjoy each other’s company and it would be ill-advised for them to hang out with plastic fans.
The following are 10 tell-tale signs that your mate is not a football fan:
#1 He does not remember Premier League scores from the weekend
Let’s face it: what kind of a self-respecting football fan is unable to remember scores from games that he has watched? If you’re a football fan, the least you are expected to know is whether Eden Hazard helped Chelsea on to a victory against Hull on the weekend, especially if you claim to be a Chelsea fan.
And yet, there are people who claim to be football fans without even following the most-followed, best-televised and most evenly contested league in the world – the Premier League. If somebody claims to be a football fan in a new conversation, one way of testing his true credentials as a fan is to quiz him on scores from the weekend.
He may or may not have watched the game, but the least he could do is check the score of his favourite team on Google!
#2 He mixes up goalscorers from different games
It’s one thing if your friend just has a bad memory for names and does not remember your South Indian friend’s surname in proper. It’s quite another if he claims to be a fan of Manchester United and does not remember whether it was Henrik Mkhitaryan who scored a goal in their last outing or Anthony Martial.
You can smell pretenders of this sort from a mile off when they do this on more than just a couple of occasions, or once every now and then. The more your mate makes this mistake, the likelier it is that he is just putting on a fandom charade in front of you.
#3 He tells tales about watching matches in stadiums without focusing on the players
Football fans go to the stadium with their primary motive being the consumption of good football, played preferably by the team which they are supporting. People watch matches in stadia for other reasons as well, but for true football fans, there is nothing more important than the quality of football on display. They’ve always got their eye on the ball after kickoff.
Therefore, if a friend returns from a high-voltage clash in a stadium and starts talking to you about all the beautiful ladies he ogled while he was ‘cheering’ his team on from the sidelines, you can rest assured that he is not a football fan – certainly not a true one.
#4 He switches loyalties from time to time
There is a popularly used and perfectly suited phrase for ‘fans’ who change the club they support every once in a while – plastic fans. Those friends of yours who can’t stick by a single club for an extended length of time do not understand the meaning of supporting a football club through thick and thin.
If football were to be likened to a religion, professional footballers would be analogous to the guardian angels, while football clubs are the sects of the religion and switching from sect to sect is not an easy thing to do.
#5 He does not enjoy watching and you your mates play
A true football fan is supposed to be always up for kicking around on the park, the front porch or even the lane in front of your house. Exceptions can be made for occasions when he is too tired, sick or has pressing work to do. But if someone just refuses to climb down a flight of stairs to play the beautiful game, the length of the stairs is not the issue here.
Assuming that he just can’t play the game because of injury troubles, one sure way of testing his enthusiasm for the game is if he likes watching you and your mates play. If he just doesn’t stand around watching you having all the fun, handing you out a choice few expletives on his way, he is just not into it, man!
#6 He does not update his FIFA squads
India is a country where the majority of football fans are from the under-30 age group. Nearly all of them play FIFA religiously, despite how expensive EA’s annually updated gaming franchise has become in the last couple of years. Piracy of FIFA games is a common occurrence, especially by college students.
So, if the only edition of FIFA your mate has on his console is FIFA 13 without updated squads, chances are that he simply does not watch football in his free time and just uses FIFA for gaming. You’d beat him in every trivia quiz you have with him because he is likely not a true football fan.
#7 He never provides live score updates
It is definitely tough to like people who spam your social media news feeds with too much content of the same variety. Most people would simply unfollow such friends on these media.
But qualifications of this sort are different when it comes to football. If your mate claims to only watch football on the weekends, and yet the only football-related posts you see by him are on Messi and Ronaldo, chances are that he is just faking it.
After all, there is no feeling quite like watching a goal being scored on live TV and disturbing people around you with your reaction to it – even on social media.
#8 He is unable to engage in a logical debate about a player’s quality
True football fans gain their footing in the game by carefully examining a variety of players from every single position in football. They take precious time out of their lives to watch replays, repeat telecasts and highlights from games they have watched once – in order to better understand players who they are fans of.
Therefore, if you find your mate just unable to engage in a logical debate about more than a couple player’s qualities, it is more than likely that he just does not watch enough football to qualify as a football fan. It would just be a waste of your time to then try and discuss football with him in the future.
#9 He talks too much about off-the-ball encounters when watching games together
A true football fan appreciates the fact that when a professional footballer has taken the pitch, he is under a fairly high amount of performance pressure. Consequently, he understands that if a player reacts adversely to a referee’s call, a teammate’s mistake or an interruption in play, it is because of the pressure he is already under.
If you are watching live games with a mate who criticises a player’s on-field reactions too much, you can deduce with a fair amount of certainty that your mate is just unable to ‘get’ football and footballers. Empathy is what drives the world and glues people together – if your friend can’t empathise with a footballer on the pitch, he is not a football fan.
#10 He does not have football boots
The worst kind of pretenders who claim they are football fans are those who do not even understand the value of well-made boots. True fans of the game are known to keep collections of boots right from their childhood and show those off to anyone interested.
The surest test for a mate’s dedication to football is a check on whether he understands which football boots are good. If he does not have his own boots, never bought them in his life and is unable to provide good recommendations to his friends, he is clearly not a football fan.