Football Fans for Hire? Belgians Auction their Support for Charity.


Most of us will pick a side to support for the World Cup Final, MLS final or FA Cup Final if our club or country is absent.

Scots have shown their ‘internationalism’ by adopting a range of countries at recent World Cups

It adds to the enjoyability of the game to have a dog in the hunt, although oddly people who actually support the dog in a hunt are remarkably rare.

The invention of pools and low key betting games in bars for the Superbowl where fans predict the final digit also creates a way in which people can become emotionally involved in something other than the commercials, the main reason for watching.

It is not unusual to cheer your local rival’s opponents on a given day if the match is televised.

Acronyms such as ABU (Anyone but United) or ABE (Anyone but England) are well known in Europe for people who dislike Manchester United or England to such a degree they will cheer for anyone against them even Germans.

In Cascadia, a small minority of bored Portland fans created the acronym ACES standing for Any Club Except Seattle, which gave them a MLS club to root for in 2009 and 2010, prior to the Timbers arriving. The whole thing was, and is, largely disowned by most Timbers fans.

However the point remains that fans who place themselves in an ivory tower and proclaim ‘if my team’s not playing, I have no interest’ are the exception.

Supporting a team for a one off game is one thing. Supporting a team for a tournament is a stretch more. This can though happen where there is a cultural connection with your own nation, a favourite player who may represent your club, or even if you had the shirt when you were six.

There is usually a good emotional reason for adopting a side. Not so for one group of fans facing EURO 2012.

As is now almost always the case, Belgium failed to qualify. Some Belgian fans could not decide who to support.

Looking for a way to raise money for his favourite charity, a UNICEF sponsored school project,  “Leren Overleven: Project Noodschool” (Learn to Survive: project Emergency school), Belgian fan and comedian Lieven Scheire had a novel idea.

He put the support of himself and some of his fellow Belgians up for auction on E-Bay.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

“It’s been 10 years since we competed in a big tournament. I’ve been too bored,” Mr. Scheire told Real Time Brussels. “I definitely needed a team.”

The idea took off and by the time the bidding ended 20,000 Belgium supporters had signed on to the charity stunt.

To assist in the campaign Mr Schiere made this hilarious promo video:

The winning bid was just €700 but the winners volunteered an extra €2,300 to the charitable cause upon hearing of their victory.

There was a downside though.

The winning bid came from not very far away, from fans of Belgium’s local rivals Netherlands across the border. It has to be explained that while Belgium regard the Dutch as their hated rivals, the Dutch look to Germany for their dose of Euro-Enmity.

For some Belgian fans, the identity of the winner was difficult to swallow.

“There was one country that we were afraid would buy us. And that was Holland,” observed Mr. Scheire, adding that his father still give him “severe looks” every time he sees him wearing orange.

But as some fans dropped out, others joined and the lack of a language barrier between the mostly Flemish fans who responded and their Dutch neighbours had some benefits. The Dutch national anthem is somewhat hard to sing if you haven’t already mastered Dutch pronunciation; as are many of their chants including some off colour ones about the Germans though none taking a side swipe at the Belgians.

Alas for Mr Schiere and his brave Oranje clad fans, their adopted team did not last and they did the only sensible patriotic thing – put themselves up for sale again.

Realising that the support of the Belgians virtually guaranteed failure, a German fan bought their support and cynically asked that they support Spain.

The Belgium for Sale website was undaunted:

“None the less, we’ll support Spain unconditionaly, no matter who bought us! Vamos España!”

This time it worked. Spain won the the tournament.

So if your team doesn’t make the MLS play-offs, what a superb idea would it be to auction yourselves off and raise money for charity.

At least Real Salt Lake’s club song is in English.


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