Supporting a team takes a lot out of a fan. Be it getting up at odd hours to watch the team, saving up to go to matches while praying and doing all they can to help the team cheer on to victory. Although it is the players on the field and the manager who directly impact the result, the fans have a major say.
“I sat there watching the Liverpool fans and they sent shivers down my spine. A mass of 40,000 people became one force behind their team.”
- The recently deceased Johan Cruyff once said this about the Liverpool fans. A testament to the fans' strength.
However, every fan has their own way of showing their passion for the team. At the 2014 World Cup, cameras often zoomed into an old shy Brazil fan in the stands, who was seen in every match carrying a homemade replica of the trophy. The picture of him in tears after Brazil's demolition by Germany were circulated widely on social media. Despite the heart break, he managed to win millions of hearts across the globe.
Supporters go to extreme lengths to support their teams. Let's take a look at 5 ways the fans show their love for the club:
Travelling to faraway places
Following a football team is a full time job. Waiting for the matches, going to the stadiums hours before the match, watching and reading what their teams are upto takes up plenty of time. However, it gets even arduous if the team is playing an away match.
However, travelling to stadiums located far away is a thing of normalcy for a football fan. In league football, there are away matches every other week, where fans travel to long distances to show their support to their teams. The distance gets even further when it is a continental competition.
Instead of complaining, football fans take it in their stride and voluntarily go for the trips, which become memorable stories to tell their children/grandchildren.
An Indian couple showed that distance is just a number by going to their 9th consecutive FIFA World Cup in Brazil, beginning their journey back in 1982 despite India's absence from each edition. Such is their love for the sport.
Sporting Tattoos to show their love
The sight of people going through the pain of a needle stabbing their bodies to get inked is quite common. There are plenty of reasons behind people getting a tattoo, but it is something that stays with you forever.
Football fans show their craze for their favourite teams/players with innovative designs that stay with them forever. People have had faces of football players inked on their body while club logos on skin is also a popular sight.
Footballers, themselves, are known for their penchant to get inked and it isn't a surprise that people imitate their idols by getting inked on their backs, arms, legs and even face!
Following illogical superstitions
You may be an atheist. You may laugh at people stopping after a black cat has crossed their paths. You may diss ones who believe that a broken glass brings bad luck. But, all logic goes out of the window on the day of your favourite team's match, when every fan turns into a believer.
Wearing a dirty, unwashed, old jersey to every match, sitting/standing at a particular place at a particular degree from the TV or eating the same meal before a match every single time are just a few examples of the superstitions fans follow in the hope that these would help their teams win.
How a pair of socks or a band can alter the team's fortunes is an unanswered question (and of course, illogical), but it continues, and will continue to be one of the most prominent practices related to sports.
Changing names of their loved ones
A football mad Australian man named his daughter 'LANESRA' in honour of the club he supports. The name is Premier League team Arsenal, spelled backwards. Another example of a fan going to extreme lengths to showcase his love is Cardiff City supporter, Paul Woodman, who named his company Cardiff City Tigers.
However, it is not just fans who name things they love based on their favourite club/players, but also professional footballers who do the same. Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla named his dog Zlatan Ibrahimovic while Granada's Javi Marquez named his newborn son Luka Modric in honour of his favourite player.
It is clear that the fans' love for their favourites transcends the sport and has an impact in their personal lives too.
Go to the Champions League final
Fans giving it their all for their teams is quite common, but them getting something in return just by showing their support is very rare. Potato chip giants Lay's are giving fans an opportunity to watch the 2016 UEFA Champions League final with a unique Lay's Choir of Champions contest.
The participants have to show their love for Lay's and football by making an innovative dubsmash of the Champions League anthem. The winners will get a chance to watch the biggest club football match in Milan in May.
Click here to participate in the Lay's Choir of Champions contest and be #GameReady to watch the 2015/16 Champions League final in Milan. Eat Lay's, show your #LoveToLoveIt and win tickets! Can't get any easier than that.