The Trouble With Being An Expat Football Supporter In Holland

Expat Football Supporter

During any kind of sporting event that involves countries competing against each other it is inevitable that expats everywhere will be asked the same question. It does not matter which country they are from and which country they find themselves in, the question from the locals is always the same; “Which country are you supporting?”

This may seem like a simple question at first with an equally simple answer; your own country (or another one you really like). However, this is a beginner’s mistake and suggests that the question actually involves some kind of choice.

To be able to answer this question correctly it is first important to understand the many deep layers of what it means. If “which country are you supporting?” is asked by a Dutchman for example the question would actually mean, “Are you supporting Holland?” and, “If not, why not?” as well as, “Aren’t you grateful for everything we have done for you, letting you stay here, letting you eat our stampot, ride our bikes, enjoy our windmills. You better be supporting us.”

It seems that most European countries are happy with you showing up, taking their jobs, their money, and their women and not attempting to learn the language but if you don’t support the local football team there will be some very deeply hurt feelings that might result in you being made an example of.

Saying that you don’t follow the sporting event in question might seem like an easy way to side step this question. However, this simply makes you a free and available resource in the eyes of your host country and means there is even less of a reason for you to not show your support by streaking through the town square wearing nothing but the local flag.

Personally, I try to answer by saying that I am supporting both countries (which in my case means England and Holland). However, this brings its own set of complications and one of two questions. “Which team are you supporting ‘more’?” and, “what if England and Holland have to face each other in the final?”

And of course your team being knocked out is not the end of it. Suddenly the question becomes, “Which country are you supporting ‘now’?” You might be broken and still crying into your beer but that does not change the fact that you are a free resource once again.

At that point the question for yourself becomes, “why not?” It’s not like you have anyone else left to support and if you do they will just keep asking until you don’t. Besides, streaking through the town square might be fun.

Hup Holland Hup

(This post was also read the radio and can heard here.)

30 responses to “The Trouble With Being An Expat Football Supporter In Holland”

  1. Aledys Ver says:

    We both have to thank Germany for getting us out of the “which country do you support more” dilemma… (as far as Argentina goes, still got Spain there!) And despite having a Dutch passport, I have to say that I still don’t know which way my heart’s going to go on Sunday. I’ve decided that I want it (my heart) to surprise me! hehe

  2. Alison says:

    Being American, I’ve gotten used to always having another team to support when it comes to football, since the US rarely makes it far enough for it to really be an issue. I have a general allegiance to England (and Scotland when they make it through every few decades) because of my mother. I chose Italy on my own back in ’94, and that finally came to fruition at the last WC. Still, we didn’t expect them to do well this time, so it wasn’t a shock when they went out so early. I like the color orange, so supporting the Dutch team hasn’t been a hardship at all. It hasn’t hurt that they’ve done so well! On the rare occasion when two teams I like play each other, I just say that I can’t lose. ;)

  3. Melissa says:

    LMAO!! Were you reading my status?? LOL!!

  4. Invader Stu says:

    Aledys Ver – The good thing about that is it should be an exciting game either way :)

    Alison – It sounds like you have a lot of options which in itself is a good option :p

    Melissa – You’re streaking through the city centre?… What time?

  5. Invader Stu says:

    Francesca Maggi – Both teams have never won so either way it’s going to be a great first time for one of them.

  6. Amanda says:

    Supporting Holland because it’s nice to support a team that does well. I still get a little excited when I watch the US team though. Can’t be helped.

  7. MissNeriss says:

    Love it! “Which team do you support ‘more’?” So true!

  8. Invader_Stu says:

    Amanda – Oh yes. It’s great that I now have someone to support who is doing so well.

    MissNeriss – And you know they mean “are you supporting us more?”

  9. Just a Plane Ride Away says:

    LOL this is SO true! How are the locals feeling about Paul the octopus picking Spain over Holland?


  10. Jase says:

    Now that the Aussies are out, I’m definitely going for Holland!

    (PS: Shhhh! I think I’d actually been supporting Holland for a while anyway, anticipating the Aussies not making it through to the end. But let’s just keep that quiet.)

  11. Invader_Stu says:

    Just a Plane Ride Away – Panic is the word I would use. People are really worried and calling out for physical harm to befall the octopus.

    Jase – (I’ll be honest. I was also not expecting England to go that far.)

  12. Iooryz says:

    It will be a big party anyway this weekend.

    btw: Stu, i found a new version of speculoos, with cruncy bits in it. It’s really good! :p

  13. Invader Stu says:

    Yeah. Either way it is going to be a crazy weekend.

    Cruncy speculoos is amazing. I’ve discovered something else new too which I might write about soon.

  14. Jill @ Teenage Bride says:

    hahah I love your site, good laughs. Thanks for filling me in on the complicated dynamics and underlying meanings when it comes to sporting events! I now feel that I am fully prepared should someone ask who I am rooting for lol.

  15. Anita says:

    Football has died for me. Forever.

  16. Jules says:

    Eh, it’s easier for women. You just blink twice, look a little confused, and say, “I really don’t know anything about soccer.” And if you call it “soccer” rather than “football” it becomes quite clear that you are to be pitied and nobody will expect anything further of you.

  17. Gez says:

    For me it’s been Hup Holland Hup! since I moved here. I don’t follow footy as a rule, but will watch the euro/world cups. Moved here from the UK, but not supported England at all. I was born in Cornwall, so I’m Celtic :) Quite happily cheered on Germany in the England/Germany game, if only in the hope of a Dutch/German final. Damn the Spanish…

  18. Andrew says:

    I’m supporting Holland in the final.. despite not having moved yet, I was having loyalty to England questioned before they got knocked out, as if I’m doing some sort of Cold-War style defection. The politics of football!

  19. Invader_Stu says:

    Jill – I’m glad I could help :)

    Anita – Awwww. There is always the next world cup.

    Jules – That sounds like cheating to me :p

    Gez – I don’t follow foot ball normally either and now I think about it I did only see one England game. I think I’ve been following Holland all along with out realizing.

    Andrew – Hopefully the party that will happen if Holland wins will not leave the country in a horrible mess before you get here.

  20. French Bean says:

    Ha. I was wondering the other day if it is safe for me to return to France. France has a significant presence of Algerian/North African communities. The US football team knocked out Algeria from the World Cup, and I know that some soccer fans can take their fanaticism to horrible extremes… >.>


    -French Bean

  21. Invader Stu says:

    French Bean – I suggest some kind of witness protection thing, a football supporter protection maybe.

  22. Andrew says:

    French Bean – I was on a minibreak to Paris on the day England played Algeria. Although I knew Paris had a significant African population, I hadn’t bargained on them being so fanatically Algerian when I was there. When I dragged my American friend to watch it at a bar, it was quite a surreal experience, coupled with more than a few suspicious looks as I explained the offside rule in the Queen’s.

  23. Dara says:

    Yay a new post, I’ve been reading this blog since my Dutch friend linked me to it :D
    Go the Netherlands! I’ve been supporting them all along but at first just as a backup.. New Zealand #1, being from there and all, then Australia, living there and all, then England, because I like England, then the Netherlands because I like the country :D
    Boo Spain! :D

  24. Wendi says:

    For some reason, my husband is a huge Orange Vutbol (?) fan. We even have hats & shirts. Maybe he just likes the color.

  25. French Bean says:

    I’m actually working on a post that talks about French North Africans, and compared to most French, they really are adamant on sticking to their culture and background.

    In case the occasion comes when I have an Algerian ask me what my nationality is, I know what tactic to use: don’t speak English (my pronounciation isn’t really “American”). I could pass off as an Italian or Spaniard. :-P

    Or: *blinks twice* I’m sorry, I really don’t know much about soccer. *flashes big, stupid grin*

    -French Bean

    And if I get asked about

  26. Invader Stu says:

    Dara – It was great for me as well being able to follow Holland once England was out. Shame about last night but there is always next time.

    Wendi – Or is your husband secretly Dutch? Has he ever looked excited at the sight of a windmill or a wheel of cheese?

  27. VallyP says:

    TIt’s all a bit after the fact now, isn’t Stu, but I do know what you mean. I tried to get out of it myself by saying that with South Africa out, I wasn’t really interested anymore, but of course, I got dragged in and in the end, I find I’ve now taken on the role of defending Holland fiercely against all the Brit criticism about our host countries dastardly and nefarious game tactics…I guess I’ve been both besieged and conquered, although not quite invaded yet ;-)

  28. Invader_Stu says:

    VallyP – I’ve found myself apologising for the English ref in final and sticking up for Holland as well. I thought he was giving a lot of yellow cards to Holland and yet ignoring a lot of the times he should have done the same for Spain. It’s a shame Holland did not win. I would have loved to see what happened if they did.

  29. A Touch of Dutch blog says:

    This is so true. I always did my best to cover my house in orange when this time came around…

  30. Freya says:

    As a American/swedish/Norwigian Living in Norway: I feel your pain. I have been asked That Question quite a few times per country of current residence.
    Well handled!

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