I am an avid sports watcher. My favorite sport to watch is football. My favorite football team is my school’s team, the University of Southern California Trojans. I attend every game during the school season and get really close to the action by sitting in the student section. In this section, everyone unites in the chants and supporting our men out on the field. Everyone wears our team’s colors of cardinal and gold. Some even paint their bodies to show how devoted they are to the team. The Trojans’ home stadium is the Los Angeles Coliseum. This stadium seats 90,000 people and is filled every home game. The band plays songs that everyone knows and sings along with. At the concession stands, you can buy popcorn, candy, hotdogs, peanuts and lemonade. It’s loud, bright and one of the most fun live games one can ever attend!
I was excited to find out that Milan has live games as well that I can attend. Instead of American football, futbol or soccer is a popular sport to watch in Milan. I am not a big soccer fan, but I was interested in attending one. This week, my homestay father surprised me with tickets to the AC/Milano and Barcelona soccer match. AC/Milano is the name of the best soccer team in Milan and its colors are red and black. Barcelona is currently one of the best soccer teams in the world. Therefore, I was bound to experience a great game. When I told all my friends in my study abroad program that I was going, they said that they were jealous because it was very hard to get tickets to this game. I was not sure what to expect from the game, but I did know that I’d get to experience first hand why soccer is so important in Milan!
I thought Trojan fans had the most pride and spirit when supporting their team, but no! The Milanese have the most team pride I have ever seen! When we arrived to the stadium, it was packed with people. It was so crowded that we had to park five blocks away! Outside of the stadium were vendors selling food and team paraphernalia like t-shirts, scarves, flags and hats. My homestay father wanted to rush to get our seats so we walked very fast through crowds of people. If I didn’t keep up, I surely would have gotten lost in all the pandemonium! Everyone was either enjoying snacks and drinks with their friends or chanting their team’s name.
Once we passed the ticket checker and headed to our seats, I gasped in amazement. There were so many people in that stadium! It was huge! I thought the Los Angeles Coliseum was humongous, but it became baby-sized compared to this soccer stadium. Like at Trojan football games, everyone represents his/her teams by wearing the team’s colors. Some people even colored their hair! There were horns and whistles and a man who spoke on the intercom who pumped the crowd up throughout the game.
Just like at football games, soccer games in Milan start with the singing of the national anthem. I couldn’t understand a word of the song since the anthem was in Italian, but everyone else sang loud and proud! Then the game started! In soccer, there are two quarters that are each 45 minutes. It was 30 degrees that night and freezing cold but you would not be able to tell by the way people were cheering, dancing, singing and chanting to help their team win a victory! Just like at football games in the United States, fans of different teams sit separately. It was funny to see fans argue and yell at the other team’s supporters. Everyone chanted with such passion.
The game to me moved a little slow. It is hard for a team to win a goal so a game could go on for 45 minutes with the score remaining zero to zero. This was exactly the case for this game. AC/Milano got their first goal during the second quarter. When the player neared the goal, every AC/Milano fan stood on their feet, anxious for a goal. Then it happened. The soccer player kicked the ball into the goal and everyone cheered! Horns rang, fans roared, hands flew in the air and everyone was jumping and high fiving! AC/Milano got their first goal and the score was one to zero. This same thing happened when AC/Milano scored their next goal. The game ended two to zero and AC/Milano was victorious!
While watching the game that afternoon, I had an epiphany. No matter where we come from, we are all similar in the sense that we all want to belong and represent where we come from. Whether it’s our country, region or university, the pride you have when representing a culture you affiliate with is unique and yet so similar across the globe. It’s crazy to hear the passion everyone had in their chants and cheers for their team and against their opponents. They were die-hard fans for their team and for players they probably never met before. Many are AC/Milano fans only because Milan was the area in which they were raised or were living. The camaraderie people have with strangers is probably at its height during sporting events because they share an interest in the same team. It was a great game and I will never forget it.