Lately, there’s been an uptick in the number of Guoan fans (including sone foreigners) who travel to away games. Many of them are going for the first time and don’t have a complete grasp of what an awayday is like, leading to some recent problems in Shanghai and Tianjin. ‘s here to provide all you awayday “virgins” with some tips on how to safely pop your cherry.
1. Never wear your colors before entering the stadium.
This is a hard and fast rule, until you’re safely inside the stadium, don’t show your club’s colors. At the very least, doing so will get you laughed at by the veterans and can often lead to bottle throwing or all-out physical confrontations. You are not at your home stadium, don’t act like you are. Low key, under the radar is what you’re going for.
2. Make contact with one of your club’s supporters groups ahead of time.
You will need a ticket and to guarantee you’ll get in the away section, you’ll need to know where your fans are meeting. If you’re not a member of a supporters section (and if not, why not? It’s a great way to make friends, improve your Chinese, and develop a drinking problem), try to get in touch with them through baidu tieba’s or sina weibo. The supporters sections arrange ticket purchases directly from the club and so it is a hassle-free process.
3. Be careful when booking train tickets
Supporters tend to travel via chartered buses or using China’s extensive train system. Going to an away match could mean entering a stadium extremely early (Shanghai fans entered Workers Stadium at 3:30 for a 7:30 match) or staying inside very late (Beijing fans famously stayed inside Hanghai until 2:30 am after a match that ended at 9:30 pm). These are extremes, but generally you’ll need to enter the stadium an hour and a half to two hours before the match begins. The same is true when it comes to leaving, so be mindful when booking tickets or making plans.
4. I repeat NO COLORS!
Sports in the US are different from everywhere else in the world, there’s no need to segregate fans and away fans proudly wear their team colors around. That isn’t the case in China. Don’t wear or show your team colors anywhere until you’ve safely entered the venue. Being a female fan is not an excuse, change in the bathroom.
5. Even when you have 300, act like there’s 30
The matches where I’ve witnessed violence the most is at games where there are more away fans. It’s strength in numbers, with all those other fans, the away fans are more likely to act brash and do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. Don’t! Keep yourself and your fellow fans safe by always acting like you didn’t travel well, even when you did.
6. Bring some form of entertainment
Whether its a book, magazine, or just your mp3 player, after reading number three, you know you’ll be entering the stadium early, so have something to do. Or just chat with the people around you and improve your Chinese.
7. Have fun
Even when your team puts in a shite performance, what makes awaydays fun is the camradarie with your fellow fans, even in some cases to include the home fans. Grabbing a meal and a few drinks before and/or after the match, getting to know the fans better, and seeing a new city in China, there’s a lot that makes awaydays worth it.
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