If you haven't noticed, European Football (aka soccer) popularity in the United States has skyrocketed. Fox Sports pays $170 million per year to broadcast the Bundesliga (Germany) and in 2016 NBC reportedly paid somewhere around $167 million per year to carry the English Premier League through the 2021-2022 seasons. Even smaller station beIN Sports has signed contracts to broadcast select matches with La Liga (Spain), Ligue 1 (France), and Serie A (Italy).
There is no shortage of European football on the weekends if you're willing to get up early for it, sometimes as early as 4:00am on the west coast. That doesn't stop the hundreds of thousands of viewers of the Premier League each weekend. That includes me:
Here in the valley, there are several supporter groups for various Premier League clubs:
Since I'm the one writing the article, I am going to write about the supporter group that I am a member of, Phoenix Red Devils (Manchester United).
Gameday Inside The Woodshed
Our club meets at a bar near the Arizona State University campus called The Woodshed. It's an older bar with a dive bar feel and a very supportive management team to open the bar for the 25 of us or so who showed up for a 9:3am kickoff. Local alcohol laws and employee availability limit opening the bar for earlier games, so there's not much that can be done about that. Almost three hours of drinking, cheering, and a little cursing makes for a great way to spend your Saturday or Sunday morning.
If you are not watching European soccer, I highly recommend that you change that. Pick your team, find your supporters group, and go meet a new group of friends.
I took the summer of 2010 to do an internship in college and live on campus with my fraternity brothers. The opening weekend of the World Cup got me hooked on football; I listened at work, watched at the gym, and watched while drinking terrible lite beer with friends. After the tournament I looked into following an EPL team because I want to watch something available close to the eastern standard time and in English. Choosing my EPL Team front to back and watched highlights on YouTube. I came away with three opinions: I don't want to be a Manchester United fan, nor a Chelsea fan, and I want to root for a team with history and success (I am a Cleveland fan, please give me this one). I chose Liverpool through friends support of the club, seeing how the city mirrored my home town, and the cast of characters that played and worked for the club. Since then I've been to two LFC matches in the USA, marched with the Reds in Baltimore, cofounded the North East Ohio LFC Supporters Group, and hang my LFC flag above my TV.
Joe at an LFC Pre-Match March
Finally, if you're lucky, your club will come to the US during the summer to play in a tournament as part of their pre-season training. Many of the top clubs come to visit every 2-3 years to help grow their popularity in the US, but also give fans a chance to see their teams live who may not be able to swing a trip to the UK. Most of the clubs listed above have visited the US in the last five years.
Manchester United vs Paris St Germain - Chicago, IL - July 29, 2015
So, that about wraps it up. The Stadium Scene team all have a club they support (except for Kate....that has to change). As you know, D.J. supports Manchester United, Jillian supports Liverpool. So be sure to nicely heckle Kate on Twitter until she selects a team and you can heckle Jillian on Twitter for supporting Liverpool.