Growing up in South Africa English football was always on television. Soon I became drawn to FC Liverpool and their passionate fans who could lift the entire team when needed. My first memories include a young Robbie Fowler and an old Ian Rush!
But what really turned me into one of the “Fans without borders” was the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final against AC Milan. I was at a sports bar in Johannesburg filled with Liverpool fans and I remember how flat half-time felt and that incredible surge of energy and hope after Stevie’s goal, then Smicer’s, and then Alonso’s equalizer! All in the space of six minutes! After Dudek made that incredible double save in extra-time, I knew we were destined to win. I have never seen anything like that since. Priceless!
Believe it or not, it was only a few years ago when I planned my first pilgrimage to the North of England. Stadium pass – ordered via the internet, Eurostar ticket – booked online, season shirt – just arrived from the fan shop. Have you tried using cash for any of that? As a “borderless” fan who was about to make a childhood dream come true I was so glad I didn’t have to worry about carrying or exchanging notes and coins!
A recent piece of research from the European Business School commissioned by MasterCard has found that borderless fans could buy 562 Fernando Torres’ with their season-long expenditure of 35 billion Euro. Well, in the recent semi-final match against FC Barcelona the Chelsea FC striker certainly returned some of this investment – sealing a win that saw his club progress to the UEFA Champions League Final against FC Bayern München. Even if my club hasn’t made it that far this season I will be among the millions of football fans around the globe watching tomorrow’s game on tv – here’s to a great match!
Which of your favorite pastimes wouldn’t be possible if you had to rely on cash?