Monday, April 9, 2012

Are you a soccer fan? Or supporter?

Tickets went on sale this week for the July 28th match between English Premier League powerhouses Liverpool and Tottenham at M&T Bank Stadium.

This highly anticipated event was the subject of much speculation on both sides of the pond for months before the official announcement.  These teams have devoted followings.   For those who only get to see them on cable, this summer "friendly" presents a rare opportunity.

It's fun to check the fansites to see who is making plans to come to Baltimore for the match. Surprisingly (to me, anyway) much of the chatter is about where everyone was going to sit. 

This is where I learned there is a real difference between a fan and a supporter.

Attending a soccer match has its own priorities, I've learned.  Whereas most event spectators value the closest seat with the best view of the action throughout the game, soccer aficionados often prefer the company they keep over their proximity to the action.  That seems to be a decided difference between a "fan" and a "supporter."

When the game was first announced, the chatter on the boards (both here and in England) was about the supporters section.  Was there one?  Where would it be?  How do you acquire tickets for it?  Interesting thing was that many of those inquiring in cyberspace had never MET those with whom they wanted to share seats.  But they wanted to sit with them.

It didn't take long for someone to acquire presale information from a PLS owner and spread the word about the supporters section.  (He also figured a way for his fellow travelers to get tickets early, but I won't give that away here.)

The point is -- if you are going to the match and you want to enjoy the spirit of the game (i.e. a fan,) you probably want to get regular tickets.  (And do it fast -- they are selling briskly.)  If you want to stand the entire game, beat a drum, sing songs, chant, and wave large banners or team scarves, see if there are any tickets left in the supporters section.

These folks (behind opposite goals, for obvious reasons) raise such a racket it is pretty hard to see or hear anything if you happen to be behind them (even without the dreaded vuvuzelas, which are not permitted in M&T.)

One thing we're pretty sure of -- it's going to be an exciting weekend here in Baltimore.  Soccer is wildly popular throughout Maryland, as is indicated by all the youth leagues and top tournaments held here.  Previous events at M&T have demonstrated the enthusiasm for bringing top European teams here.

Whether you're a supporter or a fan, get your tickets soon.  They are available from the Baltimore Ravens and can be purchased online here:

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