Watching a football match in England


Football is considered the king of sports, but there seem to be 2 words describing this sport. The two terms “soccer” and “football” can be very confusing for a lot of people, but especially in American. To help everyone understand these terms correctly, here are the things you should know about an English football match if you ever happen to be in the middle of one.

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1. It’s Not Soccer, It’s Football

In the United States, we call the sport “soccer,” which baffles most foreigners who call it “football.” Americans know the sport of “football” as one with pads, helmets, cheerleaders, and field goals. When you stop to think about it, the term “football” for “soccer” actually makes a lot more sense, since you are using your feet to control the ball. From here on out, we’ll call the sport by its proper British name

2. Root for a Team

Premier League team’s logo via Pinterest

Before you head to England, do some research about the Premier League teams. You will get a sense of each team’s heritage, colors, and championship history. You don’t need to dive headlong into your fandom, but knowing a few key points about each city and their teams will give you something to discuss when you’re in the stands with die-hard fans. Not sure where to begin? Use this fun guide as your primer for picking a Premier League team to root for that might match your current sports preferences.      

3. Learn Some of the Terms

Even if you’ve never played or watched a game of football in your life, familiarize yourself with some of the terms that you’ll likely hear when you attend the game. The field where the players are competing? That’s known as the “pitch.” The extra few minutes tacked onto the end of the match? That’s not overtime, that’s “extra time.” Knowing the small nuances of the sport’s language will help you both understand and enter conversations with local fans.

4. Don’t Expect to Tailgate

American football games, at both the collegiate and professional levels, are well-known for their barbecue cookouts, parking lots games, and party atmosphere. While you might visit a pub before the game, don’t expect fans to be getting rowdy in the parking lots in preparation for the match. Game day is a much more serious atmosphere, and fans are there to root for their club. If they want a plate of chips, they’ll get one at the pub afterward.

5. Tour the Stadium

Old Trafford Stadium via Wikimedia Commons

If you have a chance to take a tour of the stadium on the days preceding the match, do it! Unlike many U.S. stadiums that are corporate-sponsored and lack a distinct identity, most U.K. stadiums are deeply rooted in tradition and history. For example, at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, you can see a clock with a date and time that is stopped to reflect the Air Munich crash of 1958 that killed half of Manchester United’s team. If you had skipped the tour, you’d be missing out on a crucial piece of the team’s past, and the touching way that it is commemorated in the present.

6. Don’t Get (or Expect to Be) Drunk

No alcohol via Saturday Down South

While you may have a picture in your mind of what a “soccer hooligan” looks like, be prepared that this is the exception and not the norm. At American sporting events, especially football, public intoxication is accepted and even encouraged. At a British football match, you can’t drink alcohol at your seat, only on the concourse. Also, most stadiums serve tea at halftime, and some matches (like UEFA contests) don’t serve beer at all. Save your celebratory pints for after the match at a supporter’s pub.

Hope you know all about an English football match after reading this article. Enjoy your time in England if you ever be there.

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