Can You Really Switch Sport Clubs?

2014-10-01 16:32

The year was 2012, the month March. I was pumped up for the Soweto derby, wearing my Kaizer Chiefs jersey for good measure. As I looked around our residence TV room (aptly called the Chillzone), I could not locate my friend (I’ll conceal his identity, for now). Our rivals Orlando Pirates raced to a 3-0 lead after 24 minutes, with one-time UEFA Champions League winner Benni McCarthy grabbing a brace. We managed to pull one back before the interval.

Amid the half-time exchanges and casual analyses, my friend and then fellow Chiefs fan walked in. What would have been a moment of commiseration considering the scoreline manifested itself as a moment of shock, utter shock. Instead of the gold of Chiefs, he was wearing Pirates’ red away jersey. The “do not iron on print” sticker was a certain sign of its novelty. I quickly digested the realisation as we nearly clawed our way back into the match. The 3-2 loss was disheartening, but the sight of a Kaizer Chiefs fan crossing the figurative divide remained the lowlight.

Which begs the question: can one really desert their club for another in the same league? And what about moving to a direct rival? It was a baffling few hours.

A year earlier I walked into the TV room for the first time. The seniors/veterans of the residence asked me which team I followed in the English Premier League. I gave them an assured answer: Manchester United. One of them asked me why I supported United. “I did not choose the club, it chose me,” I responded. Cliché as it was, that seemed to be the most accurate answer I could conjure up.

I believe allegiance to a sport club is an emotional issue. Even if you claim to have moved from, say, Liverpool to Manchester City (another friend of mine claims to have done so), a bit of emotion is sure to grip you when the former scores or concedes a goal. It must have been quite interesting when City pipped the Merseysiders to last season’s title, especially factoring their 24-year wait for a league title. It is understandable to root for a team in each league. For example, a classmate of mine fancies Arsenal, Borrusia Dortmund, Barcelona, and Orlando Pirates. That is indeed understandable.

Deceiving onlookers about your loyalties is an easy task, but deep down you should know the truth. It was, however, sweet to see Liverpool capitulating at the last stretch, not that I wanted City to win.

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