Whether you like it or not, football chatter is everywhere. No matter if you are in the office or down the pub, discussions surrounding football are a ubiquitous part of life in the UK and indeed much of the world. If you are not a fan of the so-called beautiful game though, what are your options? The way we see it, you have three solutions.
First up, you can consider relocating to a remote island or at least a nation that has little interest in football. Even for people that loathe football though, this would be a rather extreme measure. Your second option is to simply embrace your limited knowledge of football and feel no shame about it. While a perfectly reasonable approach, it does come with some drawbacks.
Football is such a widely discussed topic that excluding yourself from all related conversations could harm your social life. It’s fine if all your friends have no interest in the sport but when many do, you risk facing being something of a group outcast. Maybe they stop inviting you down to the pub to watch the game because they think you don’t enjoy it. You also should consider that football can be an excellent topic of conversation to form an immediate bond with someone brand new to you.
Given that being able to discuss football is quite a useful skill, we recommend you consider solution three, which is blagging your way through football conversations. With a smart approach, you can trick everyone into thinking you have some decent football knowledge, when really you only know the bare minimum. This way you have an extra string to your social bow, without having to give up any meaningful time to a sport you don’t particularly like.
How to Become a Fake Football Fan: The Key Steps
Many of us have seen the widely shared clip from the IT Crowd in which the football-illiterate Moss strikes up a conversation with a co-worker of his. Opening with the line “Did you see that ludicrous display last night?” followed by “the thing about Arsenal is they always try and walk it in”, he successfully managed to dupe his colleague. These two lines have been uttered many times since, becoming the unofficial catchphrases for people who don’t know football.
Now, you will need more than a couple of lines if you want to successfully pretend you know about football but it does not take lots more. Just by giving up a small amount of your time, you will have sufficient knowledge to blag your way through most footballing conversations. All you need to do is ensure you follow the steps below.
Keep Tabs on the Latest News & Scores
Most football-talk revolves around the current state of affairs and latest news. People do not spend their time talking about the FA Cup final of 1983, instead, they will be on about something they read on the news or saw in yesterday’s match. To be a convincing participant in any footballing conversation, therefore, you will need to put in a small amount of legwork. This could be as simple as following a few accounts on social media and checking the scores of the big teams involved.
Focus on the Big Teams & Players
Following on from this, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by almost entirely discounting news and results of smaller teams. Most football discussions tend to revolve around the biggest teams, the biggest matches and the biggest stars. Most people are not spending much, if any time, talking about a recent encounter between Burnley and Luton or the new left-back Huddersfield have signed – unless you happen to live in those towns of course. Instead, they will be talking about the big clubs and major stars that regularly make the headlines. Do your research on the best clubs and players and you will be comfortable in 90% of conversations.
The only real exception is if you live in a town where there is big support for the local team, who maybe are not doing so well. In this case, it is worth keeping tabs on the local outfit because there will be far more discussion surrounding them. Should your town or city have two major teams, fake a preference for one of them, it does not really matter which. This way you will not have to double up your time reading up on them both as many genuine fans pay little attention to their local rival.
Learn the Basics
To avoid being caught out, you will need to know the basic terminology of the game. Nobody is going to start quizzing you on your knowledge but you do not want to look perplexed because someone has decided to ask for your thoughts on VAR or the offside rule. Similarly, you do not want to respond with “what’s that?” when someone asks you who you think the best centre back is. By brushing up on footballing terms, you can avoid these types of panicky situations.
Just be careful not to stick only with the ‘proper’ terms as natural football chat commonly involves abbreviations. Often you will hear a penalty referred to as a ‘pen’ while keeper is frequently preferred to the full title of ‘goalkeeper’. In these cases, you could probably piece together what someone means but this will not always be the case. Imagine if someone was talking to you about ‘United’, this could technically be Newcastle, Leeds, West Ham etc. or any one of the many teams to have this name. It is incredibly likely though that they are talking about Manchester United, or ‘Man U’ as their other shortened name goes.
Talk & Act Last (Most of the Time)
Usually, the easiest way to fit into a crowd is just to follow what everyone else does and this is true when talking about football. If everyone else starts celebrating, you know it is safe to start doing the same. If someone makes a statement and everyone else agrees, you know it is safe to also express your approval of their view.
The worst thing any football-pretender can do is get over-confident and want to take the lead on situations. Imagine you think a goal has been scored so you start heartily cheering. The rest of the room is silent, however, because they saw the assistant referee raise their flag five seconds earlier as it was obviously offside. The risk of someone with limited knowledge acting first are far too high to outweigh the very small benefits.
Ask the Odd Question
The only time you should ignore the rule above is when asking the question. Doing this provides an easy way of being involved in a conversation despite limited knowledge, and has other benefits. Firstly, by being the one talking first, you can shape the conversation into one of the few areas you know something about. If you saw that Man City won their game last night 5-0, asking people their thoughts is a very easy opener. It also means that the other person will do the bulk of the talking rather than yourself, allowing you to sit back and relax while they chunter on.
Do pay some attention to what they are saying though in case they flip the same question back to you. Should this happen all you need to do is to paraphrase what they said, while giving them credit for it. Phrases like “as you said” or “I think you are totally right about…” not only will go down well but it leaves you in no danger of being exposed for the con artist you are. It is basically like writing an answer to a test having already seen the right answer first!
Always Agree/Avoid Any Controversial Opinions
Following on from the above point, your default stance should always be to nod and agree with what is being said. Do not come out with any bold predictions because people will no doubt want your justification for them, and presumably yours will be extremely flimsy at best.
If you have to be the first to answer a question, and therefore cannot parrot what the previous person said, simply stick with a nothing statement. This will almost always get you out of any situation without exposing your actual lack of knowledge.
A Few Examples
- “What do you think of Arsenal’s new signing?” – Could go either way really, you never know how a player might settle at a new club.
- “Do you think Liverpool could win the title?” – I mean, if they avoid any major injuries, I think it’s a possibility.
- “What has gone wrong with Tottenham this season?” – That’s a tough one, hard to pin it on just one reason really, what do you reckon?