Now, we know that Americans quite as fond of football (that’s what Europeans call ‘soccer) as the rest of the world, but the tide is beginning to turn. Thanks to a national team who are starting to show the world that Americans can indeed play football, plus an increasingly competitive domestic league, plus greater exposure to European football, the sport is beginning to take off in a big way. Try as we might, however, the States really can’t compete when it comes to football culture. To see that in all its glory, you’re going to have to cross the Atlantic and see it for yourself. Fortunately, now’s a perfect time to take a trip. Below, we take a look at everything you need to know to experience football the proper way.
A Golden Age
Football in Europe has always been good, but it’s been hitting some pretty amazing heights recently. The players are better trained, the teams are more competitive, and the stadiums are more jam packed each game with die hard fans than ever before. It’s always worth mentioning that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two of the greatest players ever (and, in Messi’s case, probably the greatest player), are currently plying their trade in Spain. They’re both past thirty, however, so you won’t have long to see them at their best!
There are four main leagues and many other minor leagues in Europe. The big four are England, Germany, France, and Italy. So where do you go? You’ll have a very good time in any, but it’s hard to look past England. You’ll already speak the language, the locals will make you feel included, and it’s arguably the best – or, at least, most entertaining – league on the planet. Now you’ll just have to choose between Manchester United or Manchester City, Liverpool or Arsenal…tough call!
Because football is so popular, getting tickets to see a home game for one of the biggest teams can be a challenge, especially if they’re playing against another big team. You’ll be able to find tickets, though maybe at a cost that’s slightly above face value. It’s worth it (how many times will you be in Europe?). If you can coincide your trip with a less in demand game, tickets shouldn’t be difficult to come across.
Attending the game is about more than the ninety minutes of action. It takes up the whole day. Start the day with a full English breakfast. You’ll also see people betting on the football, so look at the form guide and have a punt on what you think the outcome will be. When you get to the ground, buy a souvenir scarf and try to figure out the words to the songs; if you don’t know them, ask, and someone will get you involved!
After the game, head straight to the pub, whether you win or lose. Dissecting what happened over a few lagers or ales with the locals is a rite of passage every fan needs to go through!