Nouveau World Cup fans: the case for the defence

Nouveau World Cup fans: the case for the defence

Four years ago, when Box2Box co-founder Josh Warwick was a Telegraph journo, he wrote something nasty about phoney football fans ruining the World Cup. He thought it had been forgotten about until a friend of B2B discovered those angry words and took almighty umbrage. So in the interest of balance, here in full is her response. 

(Oh, and 'her' is Klara Nordstrom, a Zlatan-obsessed Swede living in London.)

My friend believes the World Cup has been hijacked by “phoney fans”. In a nutshell, a phoney fan is someone who hasn’t earned the right to be emotionally invested in World Cup results because they don’t care enough about football outside the event. Apparently this is a phenomenon that has only grown since the early 90s.

Hmmmmm.  

Here is the thing: I would not qualify as a ‘true’ football fan by a long shot. I haven’t spent hours training on muddy fields. I certainly don’t have a team. But I do take some interest in it, I play weekly and I did win the office FPL league. I guess on a scale from ‘true’ to ‘phoney’ I’d place somewhere around ‘passable’.

I also wouldn’t know about the so-called “non-mainstream” golden years of global football before Italia ‘90. My tender age prevents me from remembering any World Cup before US ‘94 – the scorching summer I was properly introduced to the sport via Brolin, Andersson, Ravelli, Dahlin and a very young Larsson (as well as the start of a national hubris that would last for well over two decades).

Still, I call bullshit.

Football is the world’s most popular sport. It has been for quite some time. It has millions of fans of all levels of passion, knowledge, size, age and gender across the globe. That is why the World Cup is the world’s greatest sporting event and that is why it is magic.

Dubious commercialisation aspects aside, if someone said “hey, the world will be throwing a massive party and talk about nothing else for a couple of weeks but you should probably stay at home 'cause you just don’t know enough about it” – would you? Come on. Elitism at its absolute worst. And because I am just a little lady, I can tell you from experience that such attitudes have stopped many a deserving people from enjoying and learning more about football or any other topic.

Look, it’s not that I don’t get the frustration. Seeing ‘your thing’ being hijacked by uninformed yet strangely opinionated clowns is really, really annoying. In general, more people should pipe down more often (I’m looking at you every guy I studied politics with).

But ultimately, these faux World Cup fans are completely harmless. There is nothing they can do to take all those hours spent on miserable stands only to witness shit results away from you. Nothing. You are still the truest fans, promise.

And perhaps more importantly, there are other people destroying football. I’m of course talking about the ‘true fans’ that use football as an excuse to violently channel their insecure masculinity on to the world and cause real, physical damage. Rage against them instead, they are the ones dragging your nerdy fandom through the (field) mud.

I guess what I’m saying is: for the sake of us non-annoying World Cup enthusiasts, drop the tired elitism jargon, cause we want to feel welcome too. Who cares if some sad fools in replica shirts shed a few tears next to you in the pub? They are only embarrassing themselves. Get there early, claim your rightful space and calmly ignore them, will ya?

It will all go back to normal again very, very soon.

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