Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm gonna fight em off, a seven nation army couldn't hold me back...

Being an American soccer fan, I usually like to randomly start chanting "Ole! ole ole ole! ole, ole" as I rally myself in my living room. However, over the past couple of years I've noticed a change in the chant, particularly at live MLS or international friendlies I've attended. Out of the background a group of young male voices rise, its the White Stripes Seven Nation Army bassline:  "Ohh, o-O-o-ohhhh, ohh!"

Being American, and knowing this song is one by an American husband-wife duo band, I had always assumed it was "our" thing, an American thing, a USA thing. So much to my surprise, today while watching the Spain v Italy Group C match-up at the UEFA Euro Cup 2012 I hear the Italian fans singing after their goal: "Ohh, o-O-o-ohhhh, ohh!" I turn to Howie and say, "Isn't that an American thing? Why are the Italians singing it?" Howie promptly and matter-of-factly states, "No, it started in Europe." 

I bet you can guess what I did next....To Google! In my search to discover who really turned this American alternative rock song into an international soccer (futbol?) chant, I discovered Howie was right... Europeans started it.

An article on Deadspin reported:
The march toward musical empire began on Oct. 22, 2003, in a bar in Milan, Italy, 4,300 miles away from Detroit. Fans of Club Brugge K.V., in town for their team's group-stage UEFA Champions League clash against European giant A.C. Milan, gathered to knock back some pre-match beers. Over a stereo blared seven notes: Da...da-DA-da da DAAH DAAH, the signature riff of a minor American hit song.
But in Milan, at the beginning, it was purely spontaneous and local. Kickoff was coming. The visiting Belgians moved out into the city center, still singing. They kept chanting it in the stands of the San SiroOh...oh-OH-oh oh OHH OHH—as Peruvian striker Andres Mendoza stunned Milan with a goal in the 33rd minute and Brugge made it hold up for a shocking 1-0 upset. Filing out of the stadium, they continued to belt it out.
The song traveled back to Belgium with them, and the Brugge crowd began singing it at home games. The club itself eventually started blasting "Seven Nation Army" through the stadium speakers after goals. 
My favorite website wikipedia corroborates the story:
The song is very popular in European football stadiums even becoming the anthem of Italy's World Cup win in 2006 and of the Euro 2008.[12] Its emergence as a popular sporting anthem can be traced to a bar in Milan, Italy where on October 22, 2003 supporters of Club Brugge K.V. overheard the song while preparing for a UEFA Champions League group match against A.C. Milan and began to sing along. After a 0-1 upset win, the fans brought the song back with them to Belgium, where Brugge began playing it during matches. After Brugge hosted A.S. Roma in a UEFA Cup match on February 15, 2006, the Italian side brought the song back home with them. By the time the World Cup had began in June, the song had become the national team's unofficial anthem.[13]
Over the course of just under a decade, the song has not only infiltrated Europe, but MLS, college club sports, varsity sports, and the NFL as well (Supposedly its become a big deal at Ravens games, but I wouldn't know much about them). I will admit, I was a bit disappointed to find that USA fans did not start this chant, but what can ya do? Even though soccer is on the rise here, the fan-ship is just not the same as it is in Europe and Latin America. Ultimately, I'm just glad the vuvuzela craze has calmed down and chants are back at the forefront of goal scoring celebrations.

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