x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Fair-weather fans

While it can be said the fans deserve better, too, than their recent performance, the UAE national team needs supports through good times and bad.

For football teams playing away from their home turf, the most intimidating aspect is the roar of their opponent's fans, alternately taunting them and cheering the home side. This psychological disadvantage is so real, it is statistically significant.

How pleased, therefore, must Estonia have been when they appeared last week in Abu Dhabi to play the UAE national team, only to find the 40,000 capacity stadium contained a mere trickle of supporters. The National's Ali Khaled counted fewer than 400 fans.

Everybody likes a winner, naturally, and teams that do well always increase their supporters. But equally, losing teams need the support of their fans. There is something of a chicken-and-egg scenario with sports teams: with the support of fans, teams do better, and the better they do, the more fans they garner.

In English football, so-called fair-weather fans are often derogatorily called "Commodores", because they appear, in a reference to the best known song by the eponymous band, "once, twice, three times a season". The UAE national team deserves better. While it can be said the fans deserve better, too, than their recent performance, the team needs supports through good times and bad.