Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Are You A Supporter Or A Fan?

By Published: 8th February 2011
manchester united news
After Manchester United’s first loss in 30 Barclays Premier League matches, some of their fans, not supporters, let loose with some verbal garbage. It was not a very convincing performance from the Reds by any stretch of the imagination, and losing is never anything anyone should take easily, however, for the way some of the fans that were questioning the intentions and qualifications of United was down right despicable.
The shocking statements that were being spewed out brings up a much-needed debate about the difference between being a supporter or a fan of a club, and the latter or two showed their true colors after United’s disappointing loss. The disparaging remarks, which ranged from either calling the club a “f*****g disgrace,” or to challenging Sir Alex Ferguson, who is the successful manager in English football, were a real eye-opener since they all claimed they are devoted supporters.
It is very apparent that this disillusioned portion alleged supporters have never been given the lesson on what what it means to actually support a football club, especially one of the magnitude of Manchester United. So what is the real difference between a supporter and a fan?
The major difference between the two, which is often mistaken as the same thing, is how much a person actually concerns themselves about learning the legacies, rivalries, the traditions and, most importantly, history of that particular club. People will refute this by saying that it is just the difference terminology, and, to be honest, that is just it, but it is learning the appropriate ways, or words, to describe the club you support.
Words that are often used to describe a supporter are: passionate, dedicate and loyal, and, most importantly, embodying everything that the club is all about. Supporting a club not only demands unconditional love, but it requires that person to also honor and respect traditions, which is something a lot of fans these days do not take into consideration.
Fans, which is short for fanatics, is simply someone who casually watches a match, but does not have the club’s best interest at heart – no matter the result. There is no questioning the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson has upheld level of standards of excellence at United, but if the club falters a portion of the fan-base start ridiculing either the players or the manager.
While it is okay to critique or call out a certain player for not performing to their ability, these fans, if they were supporters, would have already learned that they must take the good with bad. Everyone should know that success cannot be fully enjoyed, or appreciated for that matter, unless the supporter has experienced tough times, and, to be honest, most modern-day United supporters have never seen the club suffer for more than a period of two years.


Manchester United is one of the world’s best-supported clubs with approximately 333 million fans worldwide, but not all of them embody the club for what it was, is and will be. If a United supporter from Manchester, or in England, decides to move abroad, he never loses his allegiance for the club he supports, and there is living proof of that with some Reds throughout America.
However, a lot of these new-aged fans do not realize that football is not like any other sport, because no matter whom you support, it should become more like a religion than anything else. As people will witness following conclusion of Super Bowl XLV, fans will jump on the Green Bay Packer bandwagon just because they are the new, hottest franchise.
However, one thing that Manchester United should never be called is a franchise, because the Red Devils are a football club, or as Sir Alex referred to it as the other day, “a family.”


Yes, football is only becoming more and popular in the United States, because of media outlets such as Fox Soccer Channel and ESPN, which is England’s version of Sky Sports, showing more and more games every weekend. With the recent media indulgence into showing the Premier League on this side of the Atlantic, Americans are now afforded the chance to pick and choose which English football team that would like follow, which is another thing that they cannot comprehend, either.
As a supporter, you do not pick your club – the club picks you. To be fair, it is much harder for people to support a club like Wigan Athletic or Wolverhampton Wanderers, because they are not on the television week in and week out, so they tend to choose Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool.
When Manchester United toured America this passed summer, some of the people who attended the matches should be considered supporters based on the fact that their either had memorabilia of a rival team, or referred to the club as “Man U.”
It must have been very hard when Gary Neville, who just brought to an end his dignified 19-year playing career with United, came over a few years back, and had people with Arsenal or Liverpool shirts wanting to get his autograph. A lot of these new fans have been attracted to the club because of the popular players like David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney, but they tend to leave when that certain play leaves.
While it is good to have highly-marketable players at your club, you would rather see supporters supporting a player that stands for what Manchester United was built on: determination, hard work, tradition and honesty. Another glaring difference between the two is that a supporter values the color of the shirt and crest on the front of it, while a fan values name on the back more.
“I Pledge Allegiance To The Crest Of Manchester United Football Club, And To The Colors For Which It Stands: One Supporter Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United With Pride And Success For All.” – The United Religion, 2007
In closing, ask yourself this question: If Manchester United was to be relegated to the third tier of English football, would you still honor, value and uphold the history and traditions the club has stood for over the last 133 years?

Football Passions
Research commissioned by Canon

Executive summary


The Football Passions report summarises extensive sociological research across 18 countries in Europe. The objectives of the study were to capture the emotions of being a football fan and to compare the feelings, expressions and behaviour of fans associated with support of their football teams. Fieldwork was conducted in six of these countries — Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain — involving observation, recordings of heart rates at matches, interviews and in-depth discussions with fans. In the remaining 11 countries, online and telephone interviews were conducted with fans. A pan-European online poll of approximately 2,000 fans was also conducted.
The research revealed that while there are differences between countries in the way fans express their emotions and behaviour, we ultimately all speak one language, the language of football. The research, however, did unearth a number of quirks and national differences that may challenge our conventional stereotypes.

Themes of Football Emotions Research

Passion and emotion

Football is associated with passion, emotion, excitement and dedication across Europe. References to extreme emotional experiences at football games characterised all aspects of discussions with fans — some referring to the 'pure joy' and exhilaration of being at football games. Such is the intensity of the experience that two thirds of fans have cried at football matches — mostly through joy, but occasionally because of despair. Football provides for many fans an opportunity to let themselves go emotionally — to release the frustrations of everyday life.

What defines a fan

To be a 'true' fan requires the 'living' experience of football. It is not about being a mere spectator — it is about being a participant. Match attendance is a given, of course, but there is also a duty to engage emotionally in the life of the team in order to impact positively on a team's performance. Attending away games is an important ritual for fans involving a number of psychological and logistical challenges. Away supporters are always out-numbered and mostly out-sung. In our discussions with fans there was a defiant stance against 'fair-weather supporters' — those who only attend matches occasionally or when their team is doing well. Such fans lack dedication and resilience and the detailed knowledge of team statistics, standings, players and history that is characteristic of 'true' fans. Football fandom is seen as a rite of passage involving a process akin to apprenticeship. It involves years of instruction, of 'practice', of dedication and of demonstrating your own knowledge in the presence of others before being accepted by 'real' fans.

The Twelfth Man

Football fans describe themselves as the 'twelfth man' — as essential to the success of the team as the players and coaching staff. It is the actions performed by fans during the game — the ritual chants, songs, banner waving, etc. — that motivates the team, intimidates the opposition players and perhaps even influences referees' decisions. The fans truly believe they must attend the game to 'help the team to win', not just to observe the event.


In addition to the actions performed in the stadiums during the match, pre- and post-game rituals are important in creating a sense of community among fans. From meeting up with other fans for a drink before and after the game to the orchestrated coordination of fabric squares to make up a larger banner, rituals foster a strong sense of belonging to the fan group. What might otherwise be forgettable, everyday actions become as meaningful and important to fans as, say, a church Mass, and generate powerful bonds. These rituals often have a superstitious quality — wearing the same 'lucky' shirt to every game or following the same routine during the build-up — even eating two pies just before the kick-off because that made the team win last time. In many European countries the presence of drummers, horn blowers etc. in the sections occupied by 'true' fans, each performing their rehearsed ritual roles, generates an emotionally charged atmosphere that is unparalleled in any other sport.

Friends and belonging

Football is an important means for people to form and maintain strong friendships that might otherwise not exist. These social bonds between fans are so strong that many describe them in familial, kinship terms — 'my brotherhood' or 'my family'. 'Football friends' are different from friends in other areas of life. Something special is shared and exchanged by them. The football team is also a 'friend' to many fans. Over half of all fans feel that being a fan of the team is like having a long-term girlfriend/boyfriend.


Football plays a key role in family life in much of Europe, linking the shared experiences of family members across generations and creating a lasting sense of tradition and belonging. The strongest of these relationships is that of father and son. Most men become fans because their father would take them to matches as a child, and many older fans still retain strong memories of these formative experiences. As football fandom is socially inherited within the family, matches regularly comprise ritualised days out for all members — toddlers and grandmothers included — and the passion for football is a unifying event that frequently leads to animated conversations at home in front of the television or around the family dinner table. The role that football plays in this context is very important given fears about the break down of the traditional family unit and its values across Europe.

History & national identity

There is a strong commonality among all fans across Europe — football unites rather than divides in this sense. The specific social and cultural role that football plays in any given country, however, is heavily influenced by historical factors. These include whether a major side or national team has won an important tournament at a decisive time in the past or whether the sport was traditionally played by upper or lower classes. Similarly, historically poignant football rivalries between some nations (e.g. Holland v Germany, England v Scotland) play a role in defining specific national football characteristics. These influence how people relate to football in their country and how they support teams at the local, regional, national and international level. Fans in countries with strong local and regional identities have a slightly different relationship to the sport than fans in countries where regionalism is of less importance. In some countries such as Norway and Sweden, allegiance to the local team is much stronger than that associated with the national side. In contrast, in France, Poland and Portugal have stronger allegiances to their national side.


The large majority of football fans in Europe are men. Both male and female fans acknowledge that football is a largely masculine domain in which the world of the fan is organised around typically male-oriented social spaces — pubs, bars, and large-scale sports arenas. In such spaces, men are permitted to express their emotions and passions — having women present, it is felt can inhibit this sometimes 'unmanly' behaviour. The predominance of males, however, does not preclude the involvement of women in the world of the football fan. Women's participation in and, and their 'consumption' of, the sport has increased significantly over the past few decades. Several fan clubs across Europe are now dedicated exclusively to women and they are increasingly accepted as 'authentic' fans, not just the wives, girlfriends or daughters of male fans.

The Internet

The Internet is now a significant resource in the world of football — fixture schedules, statistics, injuries, purchases and sales of players, team selections, ticket prices and day-to-day news about football politics. European fans spend increasing amounts of their time on football web sites accessing up-to-the-minute information about events specific to their team, keeping abreast of local, national and international developments in football politics and commenting on the play during matches. A minority of very dedicated fans browse such sites for up to 6 or 7 hours a day. In many ways, the fans' use of the Internet is an extension of their activities in the stadium. Online fans constitute fan families — groups of people with close personal relationships that are as strong at home or work in front of a desk as they are at the games themselves. Older fans, however, are not only less likely to access the Internet for these reasons than younger age groups, many see it as inconsistent with being a 'real' fan.


While much of the European media coverage of football fans has, since the late 1960s, focused on the negative — on hooliganism and violence — our research reveals a much more positive side to football and its passionate supporters. Our work, one of the most extensive pieces of research done on European football fans in recent years, highlights the passions and emotions that are associated with the game and the positive role that being a true fan plays in the lives of millions of Europeans. While there are strong rivalries between fans at local and national levels, the striking feature of the research is the high degree to which football unites people from varied backgrounds across the whole of Europe, and undoubtedly beyond.

Fan Vs Supporter - What's The Difference?

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I'm not saying that one is better than the other, just that there is an important difference.
What is the difference between the two?
Well, it's in the words. A fan likes something, a supporter actively supports it. A regular fan wouldn't drive 5 hours to support the FC Bayern Amateure in the cold March rain.
What do Supporters do differently?
Passion. Dedication. Loyalty.
Take a club like Bayern Munich for example. We have by far the most fans in Germany, but only a small group of true Supporters. The fans buy lots of merchandise and visit the home matches, and usually refer to the team, not the club. The fan idolizes players, but often knows little about the club's history. When a club doesn't do well, more and more seats will be empty, whereas the section of the Supporters is as full as ever.
The Mindest
A Supporter loves the club, not the team and its players. Those are mercenaries who do not identify with the club and will transfer as soon as more money is offered.
To a Supporter, it's all about the club, not the team.
A fan sees this as a hobby or casual entertainment. But Supporters take it seriously. No matter where or when the club plays, or how important the match is, the Supporter is there. A lot of times this means sacrificing other aspects of his life - work, school, family, friends. That's because words like loyalty and honor still have meaning. A Supporter will defend the club's name if necessary, without getting it into trouble.
To the Supporter the club is a lifestyle.
The Supporter supports the team throughout the entire match, regardless of the score or the performance. Because the team needs the support the most when things are not going well. That is not to say that displeasure can't be voiced. But the support of the team always comes first.
Simply singing or shouting is not enough. Every word uttered and every song sung has to be filled with all of the Supporter's energy and passion. Even if the players on the field don't care, it is done for the club's honor and for all of the Supporter's honor.
Sing until your lungs burn and you are ready to puke.
Supporters looks at everything the club does objectively and is not afraid to be critical. It is up them to protect the club's values and integrity and to carry them on with their actions.
Should a decision of the club clashes with the Supporter's believes, but benefits the club in the long run, the Supporter has to put his own interest aside.
Everything the Supporter does has to be in the club's best interest.
All of these traits are vital. I have known people who went to every FC Bayern match, but didn't support. There were those who sang passionately, but only cherry-picked a few matches a year. Not to mention the ones that were too drunk to even make it into the stadium, or those who only want to fight.
Unfortunately there seems to be a war going on against the Supporters/Ultras across Germany. The clubs want to replace us with customers who will shell out money without asking questions or criticizing. The clubs' identities are slowly taken away. But this is for another article.

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