South East Asian Football Culture

As socialmediatisation continues its rampant conquer of our attention, free time, thumbs, creativity and now our work, it is no surprise that the Football Culture of South East Asia is finally getting the global acclaim it deserves. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages dedicated to fan culture are now broadcasting the exploits of the passionate from Jakarta, Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Surabaya, BangkokPalembang, Pahang and Yogyakarta onto the screens of Italians, Israelis and Irishmen during their coffee break.

Asian fanatics developed their own way of supporting their team before the ubiquity of Social Media. They didn’t simply copy the Ultra Model, as is happening now in growing leagues that are exposed to Ultra behaviour elsewhere. They created something different, using the limited sources of inspiration they had. Now their Football Culture has become visible to fanatics worldwide and we, the lucky recipients who get to enjoy this dazzling explosion of Football Culture, are learning what the “South East Asian Style” really is.

So, what is it? From Boothferry To Germany is the lucky Football Culture Blog that gets the opportunity to be the first to put down in words what the South East Asian Football Culture is (as far as we know). Enjoy.

South East Asian Football Culture is Music

The first thing any outsider observes is the drumming and that the drummer is rarely alone. Fans will drum together in groups using a variety of drums, most frequently bass  and snare. The drumming is more elaborate and complex than the simple “thud thud thud” you will hear in Europe, something fans across the continent are taking inspiration from. The result is more of a carnival sound instead of military-style percussion popular at Football games.

Football drummer

South East Asian Football Culture is Dynamic Tifos

South East Asian fans also create choreographies and tifos, but with a slight twist. Choreos here are more than just a giant banner or a collection of cards creating a picture. Fans sway and move in time to the music, lifting scarves and paper up and down to create a sight that is on another level. The Tifos do the dancing. South East Asian tifos are more creative and achieve things that you could have previously thought impossible.

Fans Palembang

South East Asian Football Culture is Orchestrated

Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai fan groups employ capos who organise the respective tribunes and fan blocks they stand in. Capos give instructions to the fans, who in turn sing, sway, clap or bounce in unison to build the atmosphere and to create an impressive sight. In matches with larger attendances, there will often be various capos working different tribunes, something that differentiates South East Asian Football Culture from European Football Culture, where there is usually just a single capo.

Boys of Straits

South East Asian Football Culture is Tailgate

They love a cook-off. Individuals with giant coolers and grills will arrive hours before the match begins to feed the congregation and initiate the customs of the day. You can fill yourself with ice-cold drinks (though not always alcoholic), grab something warm and fatty to chow on or pick up new merchandise before entering the stadium at almost every Football game in South East Asia. The fact that it is community members and small business who operate the stalls contributes to the community feeling at games.

Thai Football culture

South East Asian Football Culture is Muslim…. mostly

Religion is a complicated topic in South East Asia. Though most countries down there are constitutionally and consciously secular (Brunei the exception), Islam is by far the most popular religion in the countries discussed excluding Thailand. Food and drink served during games follow Islamic tradition, hijabs are common to see in the crowd and a prayer is performed prior to kick-off at Malaysian games. However, many fans are aware of the potential danger of allowing religion to dominate Football Culture. Thus many stress the importance of keeping the terraces a secular place.

Persija Curva Nord

South East Asian Football Culture is Fan Merchandising

South East Asian Football fans will openly admit that they have taken a lot of inspiration from the European fan scene throughout the decades. This is particularly notable in the attire; the British Casual look is very popular, particularly in Java. But fan groups in South East Asia have taken it a step further and sell their own branded merchandise. The result is a colourful site in each block, instead of the mix of dark colours that you are more likely to see when you look at the tribunes during a game in Poland or England.


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