Chinese Football Chronicles | Sticking Your Neck Out

Beijing Guoan Ultras

To my surprise, fans were freely walking back out of the stadium. The vast security team that had so diligently monitored the actions of the crowd inside the ground now seemed entirely ambivalent to their temporary exit. With fifteen minutes to kill, I followed many fans out to find a soft drink. Having completed my purchase from a vendor making his living in the shadow of the stadium named in honour of the city’s proletariat, I turned to face the Beijing Workers’ Stadium and bumped into three young men in identical green t-shirts featuring bold designs. Given the impenetrable language barrier, I made a friendly motion to demonstrate my wish to take a photograph. Their passive demeanour evaporated.

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Football Matches During Covid

Football covid

There was a time when we were wondering if we would ever see live professional Football again. The necessary measures put in place to contain the terrifying transnational spread of Covid-19 in spring forced an immediate and indefinite halt to all organised sporting events. Caught between a rock and a hard place, broadcasters and governing sports bodies pursued a wide array of alternatives in order to keep television viewing figures high and to fulfill their contractual obligations, from repeats of classic Football matches to a first ever gaming 24 Hours of Le Mans race in June.

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Gresik Is United

Gresik united fans

Having added the final signature, Fandi Ahmad Yani threw down the pen with a sigh, turned to his counterpart and extended a firm hand. As Kaji Riki (a representative of Ultras Gresik) shook it, a polite round of applause rippled among the journalists and reporters gathered in the conference room. The six men sat at the table congratulated each other on the business conducted that day before turning to force a smile for the photographers.

It had happened at long last. Gresik United Football Club is owned by Continue reading

Football’s Most International National Cup

Football fans Singapore

Originally constructed in bonnie Newcastle in 1915, the HMS Malaya had been of service both in World War I and II in places as varied as Denmark, Anatolia, Malta, Genoa, Cape Verde and the Caribbean. She gallantly ended her service as target bouncing bomb practice in Loch Striven in Scotland in 1944, but where Football is concerned, the HMS Malaya made her most important trip in 1921 – to the land after which she was named. Continue reading

The Sherry Derby

Xerez Deportivo bar

This weekend would have marked the beginning of the Feria de Jerez; the annual celebration of the various traditions that collectively define the intoxicating Flamenco culture of Spain’s south. Horsemanship, Sevillana dancing, delicate guitar playing, melancholy singing and – of course – sherry are all consumed in abundance by locals eager to revel in the cultural vibrancy of their ville. Coincidentally, today marks two months since the FBTG team last attended a Football game, which happened to be the biggest game of the 2019/2020 season played in Jerez de la Frontera. Though it may seem Continue reading

Sunnis, Sukarno and Soccer Pt II

Palembang fans

For part I of Sunnis, Sukarno and Soccer, please click here.

It is easy to make the mental leap that Indonesia is “more Muslim” than its sibling Malaysia is. But if that is the case, why are Koranic prayers read at before Football matches in Malaysia and not in Indonesia? The answer perhaps lies in the path to independence of both modern nation states.

It is something of a sour point to the Chinese and Indian Malaysians that Islam, a faith that is entirely foreign to them, has been chosen as their state religion. Yet in a country where ethnicity is a factor that influences your legal rights and civil status, the Chinese and Indian Malaysians are somewhat used to playing second fiddle.

The British shipped their ancestors into their Southeast Asian territories in Continue reading

Sunnis, Sukarno and Soccer Pt I

JDT Malaysian super league

A gruff voice boomed across the ground, magnified to ensure absolute clarity. The chatter of noise from the terraces abruptly stopped, all spectators shuffled to their feet. Way down below I was already on mine, but to my left I noticed a handful of young men in one of the media boxes end their conversation and put their smartphones away in haste, before bowing their heads. The exact message of the announcement was lost on me, but I Continue reading