By DC | ET student
Everyone held onto their breath as the first whistle was blown, waiting to see how the events would unfold. I was in a pub in Central London, sitting shoulder to shoulder with men ranging in age from about 10 to 60, watching the Chelsea versus Manchester City football game. I could spot a few other women around, but we were clearly outnumbered. Everyone’s eyes fixed on the screen. I went to the bar to get a Coke — it seemed everyone around me was holding a drink of some sort and I wanted to fit in. I asked the bartender if every game day looked like this. She responded with a solid yes, and went on to explain they couldn’t even do table service during a football game since it was always so crowded. No matter who was playing, it was packed. I expected the crowd to be heavily Chelsea, as I was in London and that was one of five teams based out of London, but the crowd seemed split down the middle.
With 32 professional football leagues and over 900 clubs in 25 countries across Europe, football blows the American NFL League out of the water in size. Fans from all different clubs come together to cheer on their country. With the 2018 World Cup coming up in Russia next summer, the attention to the sport will escalate even further, with recordings of more than 3 billion fans watching the last world cup.
It didn’t matter if we were driving through the countryside of Ireland or the big city of Paris — football was being played everywhere, either in the form of a pick-up game or a club for the city. Every town or region in Europe has a football team in a minor league, and once you go to bigger scale cities they have a professional team and sometimes even more than one.
My experience in the pub showed me how much it brings people together. Being a Manchester City fan, I was sporting their away jersey and people near me started conversations about football and my team with me all in good sportsmanship. I saw people from different walks of life, who probably would not socialize in other settings, come together, converse, and laugh together, all in the name of football.