Celtic barely advancing in the Champions League and Ted Lasso videos mean one thing to the serious soccer fan – it’s back. After a tasty appetizer of the World Cup, European club soccer returns this month beginning with the Premier League this weekend. While MLS fans would counter that their season is six months old, the lure of seeing the best players in the world teaming-up Guardians of the Galaxy style (with Per Mertersacker as Groot) and compete against each other for more than one fleeting month is a moment to celebrate.
One thing that soccer fans have over fans of other sports, however, is the sheer abundance of choices of which clubs to support. If the English Premier League play is “too physical,” you can flip on Serie A. If you want to watch games with crazy tifos and precision passing, you can watch the Bundesliga. Because of this overwhelming multitude of riches, it is not only perfectly acceptable but recommended that you commit the sports version of polygamy and marry yourself to multiple clubs in addition to your hometown team.
I am a confessed American soccer polygamist. I support the hometown club of my Italian ancestors (A.S. Bari) but because I wanted to support a team I could actually watch on television, I chose to root for Arsenal as well (primarily because of the book Fever Pitch, which makes me like 90% of all American Arsenal fans). Throw in supporting my local team D.C. United, and it’s amazing I have time for anything else besides soccer.
When choosing a second club to support, there are a few ironclad “cannot violate” rules that move you from sports polygamist to simple frontrunner.
1. You cannot root for two clubs in the same league.
Rooting for A.S. Roma because you love Rome AND Napoli because you enjoy their history is weak and reeks of trying to find a team to support that will win something . Rooting for two clubs in the same country can be acceptable; however, if they end up in the same league at some point you must relinquish the love of both until one is promoted/relegated.
2. You cannot choose a team based strictly on a player, unless that player is related to you or married to you.
Players change teams (often) and if you go out to buy a shirt (or three) based simply on a player, you may end up looking foolish and stuck when the player leaves. Just ask the West Ham fans with Carlos Tevez shirts.
3. Similarly, you cannot choose a team based on its manager.
Unless it is Jose Mourinho and Chelsea. Because he is always welcome home it seems for a few years.
4. Do not choose a team based on its colors or uniforms.
The Cardiff City Bluebirds are now the Red Dragons, Hull City are almost the Hull Tigers, and even Juventus chooses to wear pink instead of its iconic black stripes at times.
So how can you choose a second team or what general principles should you follow? I’ll give you the ones I used:
Chose a second team in a league that you can easily follow on TV because, again, some teams are only available on illegal Internet streams. To truly experience the joy of watching a favorite team on the television, I needed one that played on there occasionally. With the wide number of leagues available online and on the flat screen, your options are numerous here.
Experience a different league than the one that you follow.
Try to associate with supporters’ groups and other fans. There are not a ton of active Bari supporters in my area (although I have met one!) so I needed a club where an Internet search of fan groups would actually give me results.
Essentially, when I chose to support Arsenal, I chose a club that was almost the polar opposite of the one I first supported. This allowed me to feel both the pride of rooting for a title contender and feel the agony of relegation and denied promotion. I get the best of all worlds without feeling like a hypocrite.
One of the benefits of supporting a team from a different league is that you can oftentimes find that they’re playing during a different time of the year than the league of your favorite first team. For example, the lower divisions in England kicked off earlier than the Premier League. Plus while Premier League teams take a break during international breaks, teams in lower divisions continue to play on because their squads aren’t impacted by national teams. Vice-versa, there are some leagues that play at different times of the year than the Premier League, so you can watch soccer literally twelve months of the year.
On top of the above named benefits, you can also learn more about the soccer universe outside your own team. You’ll learn about different players, the history of other clubs and appreciate new aspects of the game that you may have otherwise ignored.
Now that I have shared my soccer life story, let’s hear from you. If you support multiple soccer clubs, why did you choose the “other team” that you did? If you are considering it, what are some of the considerations going through your head or possible teams you want to add?
Once you’ve decided on a second favorite team to support, let us know which team you chose and why in the comments section below.