Last Saturday, after almost half a year not going to watch football matches in Stadium Negeri, I decided to head down to watch the Crocs play with Johor. To be honest, I was not expecting a win because the team is in such a bad state nowadays, I think it’s a miracle the Crocs can actually survive the Super League.
Anyway, I was not expecting many people because many do not want to support a losing team. Perhaps people might find it’s weird I’m still willing to go to the stadium, but I guess I can say that my loyalty lies in Sarawak, and I can’t imagine myself supporting any other team, unless of course it has something to do with where I come from or a team I initiate myself (I’ve always dreamed of having my own team).
Upon getting my tickets, all worth RM75 as I paid for my dad and another friend, I went to the stadium at 7PM to get the best seats at where I usually seat. We have this informal group of friends always sitting at the same spot since 2012.
However, upon reaching the stands, my normal seats were unavailable and were given up to the away team fans by the management of Sarawak FA.
Checks with the regular supporters who use to seat at our ‘usual spot’ reveal that the area was cordoned off way before the stadium gates opened, and it has been enlarged as the number of Johor supporters increased.
I felt this was wrong as my buddies and I have been coming to the stadium as much as we can, and we paid good money to get the best view, which is to seat at where we usually seat. If we didn’t have the seats because it was occupied by other Sarawak fans, I was still fine. But handing such seats to the opposition fans while denying your own paying fans the privilege of watching the game at the best angle on the team’s home ground only shows how much you value your home support.
BAH, FINE. To make matters worst, these seats were allocated to a bunch of supporters, known as ‘ultras’. Ultras don’t go to football matches to watch the game. They go there to sing, chant, dance and support the team with gimmicks and whatever. The last thing on their mind would be watching the game as this is against their stand as an ‘ultra’.
So, here now we have great viewing seats, wasted with the rest of the fans who actually want to watch the match only able to see half the pitch as the rest of their view is blocked by huge dudes with football scarfs dancing and chanting. The view below was just one of the ultras standing. Imagine a good 40-50 others standing up for a good 90-minutes!
Some higher authority will be quick to say that such move was due to security purposes, but I would argue differently as there was a bigger more secure stand across the stadium (photo below) which was less occupied, and had enough space for these away fans. In fact, one could easily park a bus outside the stand as there was a gated road behind the stand which was closed to the public. To improve security, the management could put a few more extra security personnel. No one will complaint because this particular section is always the last to be filled by local fans as it is more expensive and far from any stadium exit.
If that was not a viable option, and you’d insist them to be placed near the grandstand, then put these fans at the end of the roofed terrace where the view is at its worst! I mean these guys were not watching the game, so why bother giving them great viewing seats? It’s wasted!
Such special treatment of the way fans, to the expense of the local fans is nothing new as the management has in previous matches, especially big ones also prioritized the away fans more than the local fans in the name of security. This was no isolated incident (I wrote about a similar incident a few years back too: read it here, and got a reply from the someone in the management), and it made me reconsider my stadium going days at that particular moment.
I have spent a lot of money to watch football, and I pay extra (more expensive tickets) to get the best view possible.
Unfortunately, I feel that my loyalty to the team has been taken for-granted. I thought that when my team plays at home, I would get to enjoy the game more because I am a home fan, and the team is playing in its own turf.
However, it seems that the away team fans is more important in the eyes of the management, and that I am nothing but ‘an income’. The one word for it would be ‘unappreciated’.
With this feeling growing within me by the day, I might just reconsider my stadium going days because let’s face it, I go to the stadium to watch football, and if I can’t even get a decent seat because the management prefers to prioritize the away fans, then it’s best I stay at home and let the management fill up the stadium with all the away fans they want to accommodate because that’s the right way to get support for your team. Treat the away fans better and send your own home fans packing.
Yes, I am utterly disappointed and bitter about this, so bite me.
p/s: I do not expect special treatment, nor do I expect vip seats. All I want is to be able to watch my favourite team play football, and not have outside fans given priority at the expense of us local fans. I think that’s not too much to ask.