The fans are football's governing body

The beautiful game is ruled by the people who love and support it - and as I found out, that affection comes at a price.

    I've always been fascinated by the love football fans have for their teams.

    They pledge lifelong commitments. Some even tattoo the names of their favourite club on parts of their body that are best not discussed on this forum.

    I'm glad I didn't opt for permanent artwork when I supported my local team in Cape Town, South Africa.

    Once a fierce and staunch supporter of Ajax Cape Town, I decided to pull off what I believe was a world-first. A fan transfer!

    I put myself on a transfer list, and joined one of South Africa's biggest teams – Kaizer Chiefs.

    It started off as a publicity stunt for a TV show I was working on, but when I pulled on that Chiefs jersey (the club had an official unveiling for me with my own personalised kit), I felt like I had arrived at the football club where I always wanted to be.

    I felt as if I had found my calling, I was always destined to be an Amakhosi fan.

    The fans of Ajax Cape Town, aka the Urban Warriors, still curse me to this day – saying I sold my soul for a football jersey.

    They always have a go at me on Facebook whenever I mention my new team. And I am sure this forum won't be any different (bring it on old Ajax faithful! Give me your worst!).

    But whether you support Ajax, Chiefs, Wigan (I think my colleague Paul Rhys is the only Latics fan in our Doha office, maybe even the Middle East) or whether you love Arsenal, Barcelona or Juventus, your passion and love for your team is unrivalled, unmatched.

    It really is the most beautiful thing seeing football supporters get behind their team. On the couch, in the pub, at the stadium. Football fans know best.

    You see, supporters of the beautiful game are more than just spectators. They are coaches, because they know the best starting line-up on match day. They are referees, linesmen. "Are you kidding me? That was never a corner!"

    And occasionally they have the power to sack under-fire coaches. Well, they'd like to believe they know when the manager's time is up.

    Think about it. Who better to dissect a team's performance, especially after a defeat, than the fan, who had been screaming at his or her TV for 90 minutes?

    (Manchester United fans obviously shout a little longer. Games are usually 98 to 101 minutes in duration - depending on how long it takes the Red Devils to equalise.)

    A football fan can tell you exactly where the game was lost. If this is the beautiful game, then the sport's supporters are the extensions thereof. So they're the "beautiful people", really.

    And man oh man – do they have stories to tell.

    I can't wait for the new football season to start where leagues across the globe (English Premier League, South African Premiership, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Division, you name it) dish up more spectacular football. And that in turn will inspire more great stories from fans.

    To be honest, I'm actually having withdrawal symptoms already... I wish the English league would start. By the way - anyone know when the new EPL fixtures will be released?

    For the love of football and fans of the beautiful game everywhere – this one's dedicated to you.


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