If you’ve ever had a first-hand spectator experience in a soccer stadium or watched a match on television, then you’ll be fully aware of how supportive and passionate soccer fans are.
A lot of people who follow the sport will argue that soccer fans play a large role in making the game the entertaining spectacle that it is.
That in itself is a hard point to argue against, especially because of the mounting heaps of evidence out there in support of soccer being a fan-driven sport.
Now, soccer fans are well known for voicing their passion through singing and chanting during matches.
Those of you who are new to the game may struggle to understand why they soccer fans chant out their favorite songs at the top of their lungs, which is why this article has been written.
Within it, we will break down the core factors that explain why soccer fans sing during games.
But before getting into that, here’s a quick summary for those of you who don’t want to read through the entire post:
Soccer fans sing mainly as a way of encouraging the players on the pitch, as their support can boost team confidence and rattle the opponents. The fans also chant at the beginning of games when they recite the anthem of the national team or club that they support, as well as doing it to unite with other supporters and create comradery with other fans in attendance.
That’s the gist of it.
Read on for the full breakdown.
- Reasons why fans sing at soccer games
- How do the fans know when to start singing during a match?
- Where did soccer chants originally come from?
- Closing thoughts
Reasons why fans sing at soccer games
There are numerous reasons why fans choose to belt out various tunes as games are in play.
Let’s now have a look at the main ones…
1. Reciting the anthem of a national or club team
There’s usually a period of time before a match commences where majority of the stadium is in full voice.
At international level, each team has an anthem that’s played out as the players from either side line up and prepare to shake each other’s hands.
Here’s a clip that shows what this scenario looks like:
However, at club level, things are a little bit different.
Instead of both teams having their respective supporter anthems played out via the stadium’s sound system, only the home side will have their anthem played out.
For example, before matches begin at Anfield (i.e. the stadium of the English side Liverpool), the fans will sing the “You’ll Never Walk Alone” anthem which lasts for a couple of minutes.
The purpose of this particular song is to unite the players and the home supporters, which helps spur the former on to do their best when it comes to pitch performance.
2. Boosting team morale
Another reason why soccer fans sing is to encourage the players who are representing the team that they support.
In soccer, you’ll often hear fans being referred to as the “12th man” if they’re effectively able to rally together as a crowd and provide a collaborative atmosphere that raises the confidence levels of those on the pitch.
For example, Tottenham Hotspur fans typically use the “Come on You Spurs” chant when they want to motivate the team’s players.
And because the fans in attendance at the stadium are usually in the mid to high thousands (depending on the capacity that the stadium can support), the singing acts as a great way of elevating morale for the players whom the chant is purposely sung.
3. Creating comradery with other supporters in attendance
There’s something really nice about uniting behind a common cause.
Soccer fans in particular are acutely aware of this, as they enjoy coming together with people from different neighborhoods to support their local side.
Even though the people who you’re likely to interact with in the stadium may be strangers, the fact that you share a love for the team playing on the pitch creates a sense of unison.
And that sort of comradery is strengthened even further when fans sing popular club or international team chants together as a group, ultimately creating a memorable atmosphere that people truly enjoy.
Sometimes, there doesn’t even have to be meaning with regard to the songs that fans sing when they’re in the stadium.
In fact, there are instances where fans will simply create noise to make for a better atmosphere and add to the excitement of the game.
For example, soccer fans may let out consecutive “oles” [LINK] just for the sake of creating a verbal spark that gets other fans to join in and make the stadium sound as loud as possible.
4. Destabilizing the performance of the opposing team
Finally, soccer fans generally try to make the stadium atmosphere hostile for the teams that visit.
One particular way in which they do this is by using songs to mock opposition players, particularly if negative press coverage about them in the media exists.
A great example of this happened when Cristiano Ronaldo returned to play in the Premier League, amidst some sexual allegations that surrounded his private life.
Fans from opposing teams would single in on Ronaldo with a negative tune whenever he touched the soccer ball or missed an opportunity to score a goal or provide a positive attacking contribution.
How do the fans know when to start singing during a match?
For the devoted soccer viewer, the answer to this question is a straightforward one.
But those who are new to the game may struggle to understand how fans are able to belt out chants in such a coordinated manner.
Well, the trick here is that there’s a group of hard-core fans in the stadium – usually referred to as “ultras” – who start the singing of a particular tune and guide other fans around the ground to join in.
Once the ultras start singing, the rest of the audience is able to follow the lyrics being recited and that then amplifies the sound of the song to reverberate throughout most of the stadium.
Where did soccer chants originally come from?
Soccer songs have a connection with storytelling and war cries that were voiced back in the 19th century.
Folk songs and war cries gave people a sense of identity as they united in a particular struggle, and that gradually came into soccer over time as well.
Soccer fans singing during games is also a phenomenon that has existed from as far back as the 1960s.
In those days, fans used to chant about players and local things like the sort of pasties on offer in the local food market and so on.
Generally, terrace chanting grew to become quite popular towards the 1970s, as fans became more comfortable with hurling abuse at opposition players.
This is backed up by an article in The Guardian which has collated the personal experiences of many soccer fans who were active as spectators during this time.
This article has comprehensively looked at the main reasons why soccer fans sing.
Hopefully you’ll have learnt a thing or two from it.
For further reading on the sort of things soccer fans engage in, check out our other content pieces like:
- Why fans whistle during soccer games; or
- Why soccer fans sometimes turn their backs towards the pitch
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