What truly makes football special? The players? The stadiums? The managers? Not quite. As much as all of them play a big part, football’s magic is created solely by the fans. Fans make football.
Whether it’s the drone of the vuvuzela from the 2010 World Cup, or the constant renditions of ‘Will Grigg’s on fire’ from the Northern Ireland fans, the atmosphere around the grounds can define a tournament on it’s own; or most certainly spur a nation on to glory.
Some lesser footballing nations have become vastly well known and popular as a result of their fans’ undying passion, and have been partly responsible for their team’s success at international level in some ways.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most iconic national teams fans from around the world…
Republic of Ireland
When the Irish aren’t vociferously backing their team in the stands, they’re lighting up the streets of whatever city is hosting their beloved national team.
The Green Army supporters have been spotted all over Europe doing some crazy things, and what’s best about it is that none of it is aggressive or confrontational; it’s all good humoured fun whilst following their football team.
One group of the Irish fans even helped an elderly couple change their tyre on the streets of France whilst at the European Championships. Good craic…
All over the world, the Brazilian fans are iconic for generating a party atmosphere inside as well as outside the stadium. The sea of yellow and green that they create at Brazil’s games must unnerve the opposition and push the Selecao on as if they had a twelfth man.
Even after the infamous 7-1 defeat to Germany in 2014, the fans stayed and supported their side, even through tears. It is a country that lives and breathes football, and it feels like their unwavering support will never die.
In addition to their incredible run to the Euro 2016 quarter finals, the Icelandic fans made just as many headlines as those did on the pitch thanks to their incredible support.
Football is such a big part of the nation that 8% of Iceland’s population travelled to Saint-Etienne to watch their side draw against Portugal at the European Championships, with 27,000 in attendance.
Whether it’s their thunderous viking chants or their commentator sounding like he’s about to hyperventilate after watching them score, the Icelandic fans are good fun.
Similar to Brazil’s fans, but orange. The Dutch decorate whatever venue their beloved Oranje side are playing in with vibrant orange colours, whilst you may also see a fair few dressed in lion costumes.
Whatever the result or state of the national team, the Dutch faithful will always be there, creating a celebratory atmosphere in a bid to bring inspiration to those donning the shirt.
One standout moment from the Sweden fans’ exploits at Euro 2016 was the hilarious rendition of ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ with the Irish fans.
The moment showed how friendly the Sweden fans are, and whilst their politeness is commendable, they also know how to get behind their team and spur them to a result.
They travel all over the world in swarms of yellow to back their country; good on them.
Despite their domestic league not being the most well documented in football, the Primera División de México is still one of the top 10 most attended league in the world across all sports. If anything, that stat truly proves how much the Mexicans love their football, and it shows when the national team play their matches.
The Mexican fans spurred their team on to an Olympic gold medal against heavy favourites Brazil back in 2012, and it is no surprise given their inspirational ability to back their nation.
Oh, and they created the Mexican wave. They really know how to generate an atmosphere.
Infamously, the fans notorious for littering the pitches of the 1978 World Cup finals with blue and white ticker tape know how to create an atmosphere.
La Albiceleste’s faithful fans will always be remembered for their part in Argentina’s 1978 World Cup success, and their vocal support from the stands still rallies their nation to this very day.