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How does someone start to sympathize with a football club? In most cases it is not even considered as a choice. It is inherited from the family or supported by the town or city team. A sense of belonging is generated by proximity or by knowledge of their history and culture. Then, you go to the stadium and learn first-hand about everything you heard and learned.

Being football an experience so rooted in the community, is it possible to think of fanaticism for a club located more than 10,000 kilometers? The advantages offered by social networks and the possibility of following and watching matches in almost any part of the world have taken this way of experiencing sport to unexpected corners of the planet. And Argentina is not an exception.

Argentine Arsenal fans from England, along with journalist Gustavo Cima, gather to watch the 2015 FA Cup final at the Locos por el Fútbol restaurant.
Argentine Arsenal fans from England, along with journalist Gustavo Cima, gather to watch the 2015 FA Cup final at the Locos por el Fútbol restaurant.Ignacio Surbete

The arrival of cable television in the country, and with it, the broadcasts of the main European leagues, marked a turning point for the increase in interest in foreign football at the turn of the century. It was like that Ignacio Surbete, member of the official rock of the Arsenal English in Argentina, began his passion: “My younger brother watches football from everywhere, any league. I didn’t watch much football; I got hooked on this. There was the team of the ‘Invincibles’ [ganaron la Premier League en 2004 sin derrotas], he told me about this team that did not lose and I was hooked. And I didn’t release it, “says this gunner remote.

Matthias Grosso found in the same way Borussia Dortmund, from Germany, the club of which the official supporters club in the country now chairs: “I became a fan when I was younger, around 2000 or 2001, because I had gotten caught up watching the goals on TV. I liked it a lot, in particular Tomas Rosicky” remember.

Federico Di Rocco and other Argentinian Bolton Wanderers supporters gather to watch a Trotters match.
Federico Di Rocco and other Argentinian Bolton Wanderers supporters gather to watch a Trotters match.Federico di Rocco

The passion of the Argentine fan for foreign soccer is not limited to the biggest teams of the Old Continent. For example, Federico Di Rocco found fans of Bolton Wanderers, a team that was able to attract international stars in the Premier League, such as Ferdinand Iron, Youri Djorkaeff, Hidetoshi Nakata Y Jay-Jay Okocha, but today he plays in the third category of English football. “When it descended it was already a matter of following it on the Internet. It became difficult”, recalls Di Rocco. “But at that moment I met two more fans in Argentina; a boy from La Plata and another from Salta. They also had their story of how they met Bolton. We began to share and it became much more beautiful, “he adds.

The messaging forums were a critical support for these communities to flourish and expand into sustained and visible support for their clubs. “First we started in the Taringa forum. There was a group of Arsenal fans in Latin America. There I met many of my friends and, around 2012, we began to organize a gathering of people from Argentina”, says Surbete. “Generally we get together to watch the most important matches. Y, from time to time, we get together in the Planetarium with people from all over the country”, adds Grosso, whose twitter account accumulates more than 18,000 followers.

One of the events of the Argentine fans of Borussia Dortmund, around the Planetarium.
One of the events of the Argentine fans of Borussia Dortmund, around the Planetarium.Matthias Grosso

Social networks are not the only way by which sympathy for foreign clubs is generated in the country. In the same way that the arrival of immigrants more than a century ago led to the creation of promotion spaces based on football, today the Argentine Basque community finds broad support for Athletic Bilbao, one of the most historic teams in Spanish football. “We have many supporters, close to 200. It is a group that is growing; people are added every day”, he affirms, proud, Pedro Greaves, president of the club’s supporters club in Argentina. “We are mostly children of Basque descendants or people who have relatives there,” he details.

The sense of belonging to these entities did not prevent the supporters clubs from establishing friendly relations with those of other teams, with which they even organized meetings to watch matches. Grosso indicates that in the Borussia Dortmund there is a very good deal with the supporters of his archrival, Bayern, from Munich, while Greaves put together events to see classics against Real society and even late drinks with supporters of Barcelona. English clubs, meanwhile, took the camaraderie to another level: last year, Bolton spearheaded the organization of a football 6 tournament between fans of ten teams of that country in Argentina.

“It was an idea that came from Liverpool and us. We liked the idea of ​​holding a tournament between English affiliates”, explains Di Rocco about FA Cup Argentina, which featured supporters of both major Premier League clubs and Arsenal, Chelsea Y Tottenham, as pictures of the ascent, as Sheffield United Y Sheffield Wednesday. “When we dropped the idea, we knew three or four affiliates of other clubs; We didn’t know there were going to be so many teams.” Tottenham kept the trophy, beating Manchester United on penalties in the final.

With the success of the first realization, Di Rocco already has plans to expand the proposal in the coming years: “In the medium term, the idea is Gather as many teams of England that can be. And, if possible, find more direct contact with fans from England, play against fans from there or against supporters clubs from other European teams”, he enthuses. It is an idea that was also in the mind of Grosso, whose team usually plays games against Bayern and other affiliates.

Fans of Borussia Dortmund and their archrival Bayern, after their first friendly match that ended 23-3 in favor of those in black and yellow.
Fans of Borussia Dortmund and their archrival Bayern, after their first friendly match that ended 23-3 in favor of those in black and yellow.Matthias Grosso

Contact with the clubs from Europe

One of the pillars of the expansion of the European subsidiaries in Argentina is the support of the clubs with which they are associated, which on many occasions have promoted and made visible the support they receive from various parts of the world. “Borussia Dortmund is quite attentive to the fan clubs. I talk a lot by email with them. I am contacting them so that they can send us videos of the players for the subsidiary’s anniversary, which will be eight years old in February“, says Grosso.

Surbete also acknowledges the help, which in his case he received from Arsenal at the time of sending Martín, another member of the official supporters club, to visit the Emirates Stadium in London: “He gave them the date on which he was going to travel and they got him a ticket to the stadium. Generally it is almost impossible to get a ticket for a Premier League match; They sell out months before games. So it was a very nice gesture from the club.”

A photo that could be from London, Borussia or Bolton, but Surbete, Grosso and Di Rocco wear their shirts a few meters from the Obelisk.
A photo that could be from London, Borussia or Bolton, but Surbete, Grosso and Di Rocco wear their shirts a few meters from the Obelisk.Mauro Alfieri

In this regard, the Athletic supporters’ club can be considered the one that was most listened to by their club. The subsidiary’s board of directors is made up of 12 members of the Biscayan entity, who participated in some of the decisions that directly concern Bilbao as a whole. And one of them may occur in the coming weeks. Every year the premio One Club Man (Man of a Single Club) to soccer players who transcended playing in a single team throughout their career. He was received by figures such as Paolo Maldini, Carles Puyol Y Ryan Giggs, and Greaves contributed so that from Argentina he is nominated Ricardo Bochini, legend of Independent. “We presented the Bocha nomination in November and we hope they give it to him. It would be the first time that they would give it to someone from outside Europe”, the manager hopes.

This reaffirmation of the club’s values, as well as its connection with its fans, is essential for Greaves, who acknowledges that it was not difficult for him to find followers of the cause in the country: “The Basque arouses many sympathies in Argentina, that’s why I say that we hunt in the zoo spreading the culture of Athletic. We find a lot of sympathy for the values ​​and politics of the club in such a globalized context”.

Meeting of the Athletic Bilbao supporters club in Argentina for a Copa del Rey final;  the great Basque community in the country contributes fans to the local cause of the Biscayan team,
Meeting of the Athletic Bilbao supporters club in Argentina for a Copa del Rey final; the great Basque community in the country contributes fans to the local cause of the Biscayan team,Pedro Greaves

In the same vein, Di Rocco emphasizes that the importance of forming these communities lies in the shared experiences of living football, regardless of physical proximity: “The idea is to have fun with each other, and also share moments that go beyond watching games”, he exposes. Greaves agrees: “football brings people together. It is here to unite us, not to separate us. To us, who have the principles of the Basques, that seems central to us”.




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