Arsenal Vs. Galatasaray

This has been an eventful week for the Almontes!

A few nights ago we checked out our first football (soccer football, not NFL football) match here in Europe. It was my first football match ever and Andy’s first in Europe as he’d been to a match both in the States and in Brazil.

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He warned me that matches can get a little crazy which, honestly, made me nervous. I’m almost 4 months post-op, have started the gym again but still experiencing daily back pain. So the last thing I needed was a rowdy environment where I could get pushed/shoved and hurt. Still, I actually do enjoy watching football and was also interested in seeing a match so I was happy to go 🙂

The match we saw was a Champions League match with Arsenal (the English team Andy has decided to support) and Galatasaray – a Turkish team. I don’t know much about either team but since there is a large Turkish population in London I figured Galatasaray supporters would be out to support their team.

And I wasn’t wrong. On our way to the Emirates Stadium, the home stadium for Arsenal, we saw a good mix of both Arsenal and Galatasaray fans.

We ended up with great seats.

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(Andy excited to be at the match, wearing his red and white strips in support of Arsenal).

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(This is zoomed in a bit but we were close enough that I could read the numbers of the players shirts.)

So, before the game actually started, I noticed an entire section of Galatasaray fans. It was hard to miss their red and orange attire…and you had to be deaf not to hear their chants.

I have no clue what they were saying, but it looked like fun. The kind of fun that I’d like to observe from a distance though…cause I’m not about all that jumping up and down stuff.

The game started and Arsenal scored their first goal. Then they scored their second goal. And then they scored a third. All within the first half (45 mins) of the game. Remember those chanting fans jumping up and down?

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They suddenly turned into rioting fans. They threw flares (yes, flares) onto the pitch. You might be asking “Aren’t flares prohibited at matches?” Yes, they are. “So how did they get them in?” I can take a few guesses. But it wasn’t just flares – as if that wasn’t enough – it was firecrackers too. How they hell did they get those into the stadium??

The game had to be momentarily paused while the police were brought in to calm the fans down. In the meantime, the Galatasaray team captain ran over to the fans to plead with them to behave and stop throwing shit onto the pitch (probably not his exact words so I’m improvising). I read in this article that six people were arrested that night.

While definitely an adrenaline rush, the important part is that no one got seriously injured and Andy and I weren’t hurt. AND we made it home without getting beat up by an angry Galatasaray fans 😀

In retrospect, when Andy told me things get a little crazy at football matches, I should have known drunk rowdy fans would be the least of my concerns. Still, I never would have imagined flares and firecrackers!

Despite it all, it was an amazing experience and actually a lot of fun to witness. I couldn’t sleep that night thinking about how awesome it was to witness that live. I’m looking forward to our next match and just hoping the next time we go the opposing team doesn’t try to burn down the stadium…

And, in case you’re curious, Arsenal won that night 4-1.

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