Other true fans got your back!

The fourth edition in our series of sports-related hobbies talks about itinerant fans.

If you read this article when it’s published during the football World Cup in Brazil, you should find it easy to relate to what Asko Parkkasaari, 28, told us about his visit to the previous such competition four years ago.

“In the 2000s, I studied sports marketing at the JAMK University of Applied Sciences. The school developed a sports-related study programme in collaboration with a South African university under the auspices of FIFA, the International Football Federation, and as part of this programme a group of us were invited there to carry out research on site.”

So you went there as a student – going to school does pay off. What where you actually up to there?

“We flew to Cape Town to conduct interviews with football fans in one of the Fan Fest areas, which only accommodate so many visitors, like the stadiums themselves. We interviewed a good number of people representing a wide variety of nationalities to hear about their experiences. So we got our work in alright. And as part of the picture we got to see one game at the stadium – that was France vs. Uruguay.”

Wow, not quite like school in Another Brick in the Wall – probably more like “another kick at the ball”. How did the trip affect your perception of such big sports fests?

“Although you know that it’s a truly big event, you really have to get there to appreciate this in earnest. And on site you really understand how big a deal it is for the fans of participating nations. We hit the Fan Fest in the morning of the opening day, when the hosts South Africa played Mexico in Johannesburg, but also Cape Town was like one big carnival ground all day long.”

How big a part of “big-time” is the fact that the World Cup takes place every four years, not more often?

“I’d say pretty big, not only from the fans’ point of view but also from the athletes’ standpoint. The best players live for the World Cup – not many of them will turn down an invite to play, compared to some ice hockey world championships.”

In your opinion, what kinds of fans should take the trip instead of watching at home?

“Such events will suit all kinds of fans just great, as they tend to take place where there is loads of other stuff to get excited about as well – and the 2018 World Cup will take place right next door in Russia.”

What a good reminder; how about starting to put money on the side!

Mika Oksanen