Supporting Your Team from Half a World Away

Article by Marcus Meyer

Hi, I am Marcus, lifelong fan of the German Football Team Werder Bremen. I started being fan of this Team as a kid and still manage to follow it closely, even living here in Xi’an for nearly 3 years. There’s probably no good rational explanation why you become a fan of a Team. When it comes to other teams or national team events like the World Cup, I couldn’t be less interested. For example, when Germany won the title a few years ago, I barely notice, but when there’s a pre-season test match for my team, regardless of the opponent, you can be sure that I’ll try to find a livestream for it.

Even before coming to China, I also lived abroad, but it was still possible to occasionally get to a stadium for the live experience, enjoying the experience with other fans like me. These day, getting to the stadium is a bit more difficult, but I remain active in an online forum about the club to keep myself informed about everything going on in the club. It’s also nice to have some conversations with other fans who share the same passion for Werder.

I bought a projector for my home and managed to find a subscription for a sports package. Actually, compared to Europe, it is very cheap to watch all the games live, though the commentary is in Chinese, which at first was unusual. After a while, I got used to the Chinese commentators, which I now find funny to listen to, especially when they try their best to pronounce the players’ names.

During winter time there’s a 7-hour time difference, 6 hours in summer, which isn’t typically a problem for most games, which usually start around 15:30. However roughly one-third of the games have a starting time of 18:30 or even 20:30, which means that I will need to watch the game at 00:30 or 02:30 in the morning. Still, my devotion is strong and I haven’t missed a game for a very long time; even though my team hasn’t perform too well in the past few years. I won’t stop watching them, that is for sure.
The Bundesliga (German Association Football League) was on hold during the whole virus situation and just restarted the season recently. The teams and staff were quarantined before the games and were tested regularly. No fans are allowed in the stadiums, which has led these games to be called Geisterspiele (ghost games). They even issued even some guidelines about how players should and should not celebrate the goals, though these often weren’t followed by all in the heat of the moment. The restarting of the league has caused something of a controversy in Europe, as many people don’t support the extra efforts required to allow this business continue while other sport events are still on hold.

For most recent match at the time of this writing, Werder played on a Monday evening at 20:30 European time (Making it 2:30 China time), which is always a challenge for me. On this day, I was very tired after a long day of cycling and I felt asleep on the couch while trying to stay awake while watching a movie to stay awake. Luckily, my beloved wife was aware of the game and was kind enough to wake me up just when the game started. Even through the TV, you could tell that the atmosphere in the stadium was very different without the fans. You could even hear the coach and players words clearly and overall, it was a bit surreal. Unfortunately, my team performed very poorly and lost 1:4, but, regardless, I am already looking forward to the next game and hoping for the best. Werder is my team, and I will follow them no matter what.