On our last day in Rotterdam, T surprised me with tickets (for a beer garden) to watch the Feyenoord Rotterdam play for the “championship plate.” (Yes, Europe is different. They play for plates, not a cup, or a bowl that you can at least drink out of – But hey maybe they serve their championship meal on the “championship plate…”)
The Eredivisie (the Super Bowl of Dutch “football”) game was against Rotterdam’s arch rival, Amsterdam. For Rotterdam, the stakes were high as Feyenoord had not won a title since 1998, and both the city and the fans were hungry for victory.
I must admit, T significantly and perhaps purposely undersold the debauchery of European Football. Naively, I thought the fanatic culture would be somewhat similar to that of college sports. Boy, was I wrong!
My first hint should have been when a girlfriend of one T’s friends asked, “Do they throw beer at hockey games or football games in North America?” My response, “No, why would they?”
To which she replied, “Oh. I thought they would.”
Being generous, the beer garden was no bigger than a football field. As game time approached the site filled up quickly. By kick off (or what ever you call start time) the converted parking lot had over 7,000 people crammed together watching one screen. (In North America, there would be no less than six screens, seating area, and extra space for everyone to see and watch comfortably.
As play began, I was lost in the commentary. By Dutch standards, I am somewhat considered vertically challenged. I couldn’t see the screen, and when the beer started flying, the surprise shower startled me. It turns out, in Holland, you throw your beer when your team scores. Who would have thought??
As the game progressed, I mentally and physically prepared for the “dancing in the rain…I mean beer.” Fortunately for Rotterdam, Feyenoord won! Post game, Fan’s took to the city to dance in the fountain.
To an outsider, in Europe, it’s always “Football Season.” The season starts in August, and the Championship title is awarded early May. When Europe, for an authentic experience, try out a soccer game. But be warned, the experience is unlike any “civilized” sporting event you’ve ever attended.