How do you choose a football team to support?

Are you new to the sport of football? Have you caught the four-year World Cup fever and want to keep your interest in the game going? Casually watching footy all year round, but want to take your support to the next level? Then you need to know how to choose a football team to support – and we’re here to help.

Choosing a team to support can be a tough undertaking. French and Manchester United legend Eric Cantona is quoted as saying, “You can change your wife, your politics, your religion, but you can never change your favorite football team.” It’s not quite as horrible as all that, but it’s true that the rollercoaster ride of emotions and memories you experience will vary greatly depending on who you throw your weight on.

So here’s a handy list of do’s and don’ts when choosing a football team to support.

International teams

This facet of world football is easy to tackle. To be simple, just go for your home country, the country you live in or feel most closely associated with, or with which you have a family heritage. It can be difficult if you come from a smaller country or a country that is not a traditional world power, but the international game still carries enormous significance, even if your team may never win the World Cup.

For the fan who is more a fan of hipsters, there is an often overlooked part of the international game that may appeal. There are teams representing states, peoples and regions that are not recognized by FIFA. Generally controlled by the organization CONIFAdo these teams represent places like Tibet, Hawaiiand Yorkshire. They even have their own World Cup competition!

So find the national team that best represents you, wave that flag and enjoy the ride!

How do you choose a football team to support?

Choosing one club support is a much more nuanced and important decision. There are thousands and thousands of clubs around the world and club football is played much more often than the international game. So there are more matches to watch, in more competitions, at more times of the year. And that means more chances for glory… and for misery.

So here are some tips for finding your perfect match:

Location, location, location

I just can’t stress this enough, but there is perhaps no better application of the phrase “support your local” than football. Wherever you are in the world, there is most likely an adult men’s and/or women’s club within reasonable driving distance.

Yes, following a huge club in one of the world’s biggest leagues is a fun activity. But there’s absolutely nothing like attending in person and being part of a club’s atmosphere and culture. The friendships and memories you make by supporting your local club can change your life (it certainly changed mine – I met my wife at a Fort Lauderdale Strikers game).

And if you are blessed with one or more major professional teams in your immediate vicinity, that’s fine too! Between MLS, USL and NISA, there are 86 professional teams (including announced expansion teams) playing in the US. On the women’s side, NWSL offers 12 teams numbered 13 and 14 on their way soon, and the USL Super League will be arriving soon, bringing more female pro teams across the country.

And beyond the professional levels, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of amateur clubs across the continent in leagues such as the NPSL, USL2, UPSL and others – many of which showcase great talent and great gameday vibes. As proven in places like Detroit and Chattanooga, even a small amateur team can have an atmosphere and culture to rival larger professional outfits, when the community gets strong and supports a club.

So find the nearest club and give them a look – even if it’s just an amateur level team kicking ass in a local park. It can be incredibly rewarding. And if that club is a lower domestic squad in the US, more often than not they are need your help. Buying tickets, watching matches, even just being willing to wear a t-shirt around town to help spread the word can go a long way in helping a club.

Family ties: how to choose a football team to support?

While you may be new to going all-in when supporting a club, you most likely have someone in your family or circle of friends who already does. Many people inherit their club from their parents or other relatives, and the support of generations is what drives clubs’ long-lasting support. Sports fandom is one of the greatest bonding experiences family and friends have had in the past few centuries in human development.

Plus, having a network of others, or even just a single friend, to get involved in supporting a club is incredibly helpful. It’s cool to set your sights on becoming a Shimizu S-Pulse super fan and stay up late to watch the J2 League. But without someone to connect with, it could be a less rewarding endeavor. Of course, in the modern world it’s easier than ever to connect with people online from all over the world, but having a personal team to share the experience with takes it up a notch.

Find a club that appeals to you

Some people say sport should be sport and leave politics out of it. But these two areas of life are often intrinsically intertwined at the most basic levels.

Many clubs – or their owner(s) – are outspoken in their support for off-field causes. Human rights, LQBTQ+ inclusion, opposition to war, rejection of the obscene commercialism of the modern game – these are some of the issues that many clubs are publicly addressing.

Of course, there are often other, more politically benign activities that clubs engage in. Supporting local charities, supplying school children, visiting hospitals and other forms of community involvement. Examine the ways a club is reaching out to their community and see if it’s something you can get behind. On the other hand, watch out for any red flags – the way a club treats its supporters and its community. For example, you don’t want to get on board with a club that overcharges its fans and supports something like the European Super League.

Eliminate the supporters

Most clubs have one or more organized support groups. These fans, for better or for worse, can often paint a large part of a club’s image. Find the supporters of a future club. Check out their social media channels and website. See what they’re up to, when they get together – and what she support. Even if a club itself is not actively involved in political or cultural views, supporters often do, and it can certainly determine whether or not you want to be associated with that club.

Even if you want to support an overseas team, very often there are local supporter groups near you that gather to watch matches. Whether it’s for a local or faraway club, there are opportunities for viewing parties, road trips, tailgates, and other social outings, so you’ll definitely want to see if there’s a group of like-minded people you can support together with!

Select for aesthetics

It may seem trivial, but a club’s visual appearance is a big part of its identity, and as a supporter it inevitably becomes part of your identity. And mediocre badge design or outlandish kits can easily be a turnoff (just ask Leeds fans and others who have rebelled against club rebrands in the past).

In the absence of everything else, find a club with colors and an overall aesthetic that appeals to you. When I was younger I found myself casually supporting Wolves and Club América after browsing the leagues in FIFA and choosing a team for career mode and liking their logos the most.

These are just a few things you need to do to help you find a club. But there are also a few things you should try to avoid:

Don’t be a glory hunter

It can be tempting to just hang on to a perpetual winner. Do not do it. Don’t be that person.

If you have a legitimate reason to support a club like Real Madrid, Boca Juniors or Manchester United, go for it! They are great, historic teams with a rich fan base and club culture. In addition, it is very easy to find team equipment and keep up to date with the news of a major club. But don’t do it just because they have rooms full of trophies and mountains of cash at their disposal.

Sure, in many leagues there are only a few teams that have a realistic chance of winning a championship, but don’t pick a team that’s at the top of the table for that reason alone. The joy of winning isn’t nearly as sweet when it’s tasted every year at every trophy ceremony around the world in a different colored shirt. Stick to a club, even in the tough times.

Support a club, not players

There are certainly more than a few world-class players and exciting personalities who are a joy to follow, but don’t change clubs when they do. The number of so-called “supporters” of teams like Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus skyrocketed in recent years when Messi and Ronaldo (briefly in his case) signed for those clubs, and frankly it’s a bit farcical.

Players, managers and owners come and go. But a club, its supporters and its community are eternal. It’s cool if a certain player is your gateway to a club, but stay for the long haul once they’re gone!

Club > League

Don’t be a “Euro snob”. Or MLS snob, or Brasileirão snob, etc. What does that mean? Simply put, don’t just sack a club for not playing at what you consider a worthy level.

As mentioned above in the ‘supporting local’ section, falling in love with a club can be a hugely rewarding, wonderful experience – even if that club is a local Sunday League team. Even if a club and/or its league seems vague and possibly doomed, don’t necessarily let that stop you. Life-changing moments can await you, even if you only make it to one game and then, sadly, a club folds. Your support can mean the difference between a club ultimately failing in its infancy and surviving to one day become a cultural touchstone for generations.

And in today’s connected world, it can be as easy to follow your local NPSL squad as it is to follow a Premier League or MLS team. Every professional club in the US has all its games available to stream and/or stream on TV, and many amateur clubs stream games and also provide live updates on social media.

Additionally, remember that while one club will ultimately hold a special place in your heart above all others, it’s fine to follow more than one. While football is one of the few sports where clubs from all over the world can theoretically play each other in competitive matches (through continental tournaments and the Club World Cup), it’s incredibly unlikely that your local USL team and Tottenham will ever face each other place you in a conflict of interest.

There’s no really right or wrong way to go about it, but we hope these insights will help you choose a football team to support. At the end of the day, it’s all about enjoying the game, and following a team is the best way to do that!

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American supporters,Featured,how to pick a team,football,football fans,followers,World Cup

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