Admittedly there haven’t been many moments in my life where I’ve shared a confined space with football fans, but flight KL 205 from Amsterdam-Rio blessed me with 12 hours of such an experience. I would estimate the ratio of men to women on the flight was around 8:2.
Wedged in the middle of the aircraft, I got chatting to diehard England football fan Chad, from Doncaster. Chad has bought a one-way ticket to Rio. He will fly around Brazil wherever England are playing, planning only to return home when England are out of the cup. “There’s no point in staying after that”, he said. I didn’t dare ask at which stage he thought that might be, though based on recent events…I guess he may not be here as long as he had hoped.
He also told me he doesn’t have a job, and is funding his Brazilian football foray on credit, thanks to a Tesco 18 month interest free payback credit card. “When people ask me how I afford it, I ask them how they pay for cigarettes and alcohol.” You find the money for the things you love, I think was his point.
Part of me thought it was unthinkable to fly to the World Cup without an income, but another part of me admired his unflinching commitment to football, and more specifically the England football team.
At the end of the flight, Chad pulled a big shiny fake world cup trophy from his bag and declared his intention to run onto the pitch and deliver it by hand to Steven Gerrard if England make it to the World Cup final.
Chad has introduced me to the kind of ‘love of the game’ I’ve only ever seen from afar. Either way, it’s a kind of ‘love’ I’m already learning lots about after just a few days in Rio.