Thursday, 4 February 2010

How I Became the Gunners? - Part 2.

How I Became the Gunners? - Part 2.
(for part 1, click here)


There were five London teams playing in a first division of English football league. Arsenal and Chelsea share their world-wide reputation whilst Tottenham Hotspur, Westham United, and Fulham FC with a national reputation. One of those fine afternoons on Saturday, I was walking down on the street, somewhere around the centre of city, trying to find something interesting enough to spend rest of the day. There was always something attracted me in London so I used to go out without any plan, with no concerns. Then I saw people shouting and cheering themselves in front of screen at the pub. They were watching the live coverage of football match! From my point of view, they looked a bit mad or crazy, but I found as well that they really enjoy themselves. With a cup of beer on a hand, they were singing, shouting, laughing and talking. There it is! I decided to go into the pub. But in less than five minute from I went in, I found that I am an alien with no team to sing a song for! I felt that I am completely excluded from those who are enjoying their time. So what? I am kind of force to decide which team to support.

Given the choices I had, it was not much difficult for me to choose. Even though I had never been Gunners or identify myself as a supporter of Arsenal, I used to watch their game and liked the way they play football. Also I had an Arsenal replica shirt already, which I bought in 2003 with no kind of loyalty to the club. I knew several players and their name in the team, I knew how they like to play, I knew who the manager is, I knew a little bit of their history and so on. So there were enough reasons for me to be an Arsenal supporter! After that decision, everything was already set up for me. I joined the Red Membership which guarantees the basic accessibility of the every match tickets including some exclusive items such as DVD, book of previous season’s review, and Arsenal-logo-printed bottle opener. And I will never forget the moment when I felt my newly-made identification for the first time. After such a long waiting period, I finally had a chance to get involved the whole mad crowd when I visit Emirates Stadium, of course the home ground of Arsenal, for the very first time. The atmosphere inside of the stadium was just amazing. Over 60,000 people shouting and singing, chanting player’s name together, it was incredible experience for me. I had a similar one in the past when the World Cup was held in Korea in 2002, but I felt, this one is for me something special. I think the difference that separate two occasions and make latter feeling special for me was because I thought that is my decision! Nationality is, of course, out of my choice, but I thought that somewhat I decide to be Gunners, I thought I have the control in shaping my own identity. It is true that identity involves some active engagement, but the there is something beyond my choice. The process of identification is more than my decision or choice, I found.

There are much more elements which effect what I called ‘my decision’. I might have chosen Arsenal because of their continually promoted images, because of the image of success, or even because of the fact that while most of Korean people support Man Utd., I probably try to identify myself as a person who is aware of nationalism, in other word; I am a ‘real’ football fan! Those elements are countless and also it has to be said that any decision we make in shaping our own identity is sometimes beyond our self-consciousness. There is a moment when identification process is kind of force to developed, especially when it links with commercial benefits. If you just want to go into the stadium, then you just pay for the ticket. That is fine. But that is not fine from the football club’s point of view. Basically they are doing business. In order to sustain their business, it is fairly important for them to have stable basis of revenue. Apart from match day’s gate receipt, there are hundreds of ways where they make money from. In case of Arsenal, they made a profit of 36.7 million pounds in 2008 , and while most of profit was made from gate receipt and TV broadcasting deal, it has to be pointed out that retail part played a significant role as well. Supporters are often encouraged to show their loyalty to the club by spending their money on those commodities and services provided by the club. To be an Arsenal fans, I spent a lot of money. Especially considering my length of time as a supporter, I felt I had to spend my money to show other fairly loyal supporters my loyalty to the club. Yes, I have made a decision, but after that, to develop my identity as an Arsenal fans, I had not much choice. I had to buy an Arsenal shirt, pay for the membership and subscription of Arsenal TV Online Service, and of course, for the match tickets. So it is not far wrong to say that I might just have ‘bought’ my identity. In this modern society, you can ‘buy’ your own identity.

Although I decided to be a supporter of Arsenal and thought that was in my control, but now it seems to me that it is no longer in my control. Identity is often produced and reproduced by consumption in many ways. Therefore as long as we are living in this capitalistic society, the process of identification is hardly in our control in many case.

(End. kinda. -_ -)


* I think now that I was born to support Arsenal. That's just what it is, you know...

** I don't spend that much money to 'buy' my identity any more. There are several reasons.

1. Here, in Korea, there are not much things to spend my money on. It's all Man Utd. world, you know. Even Seoul is one of those 'official' sponsor of Man Utd. I don't want my tax to be spent in that way. I've never approved it, no way. Just weird. :(
2. I don't feel I have to prove my loyalty to the club any more because I'm just feeling it with my heart. (Oh God... What have they ever done to me?)
3. I don't or can't buy a match ticket. Of course I'd love to if I could.

*** I'm considering whether to extend my Arsenal TV Online subscription, which cost me 45 pounds a year, or not. 45 pound is not nothing although it's worth spending. I'm fed up with listening to those one-sided Korean commentary. Nationality has nothing to do with English Football!


Equipo de Bitácora (M-L) said...

*What makes someone who lives so far from European leagues to become a follower of a European team?

*¿Qué lleva a alguien que vive tan lejos de las ligas europeas a convertirse en un seguidor de un equipo europeo?

likethenina said...

Pedro Jose Madrigal Reyes//

Well, I dunno, guess that's all the same for any football fans all over the world.

European football leagues are best eye-catching, aren't they?

Your name reminds me of one of the former Arsenal player, called Jose Antonio Reyes, anyway.

Is he playing for A. Madrid now?

Hope he's doing well there.

Hope you're well, too.