The Impact of the Fans

Milan’s Curva Sud are legendary for their coreografia, the amazing banners and displays they present for Derby matches and other big games. All bias aside, they are the best I’ve seen, and other clubs have often copied them. Additionally, the fans sing chants, play drums (when allowed,) and cheer to create an atmosphere that is phenomenal. Even though flares have been outlawed for some time, there are many legendary pictures where the light of the flares and the smoke they create make for amazing photography and also make you wish you were there.

"When you are in hell, only the devil can save you"... brilliant Curva coreo

This atmosphere has been sorely missed by the players, as well as television viewers all over the world this year, since COVID-19 changed everything. Milan’s first game behind closed doors was vs. Genoa, when the double blow of having no fans and having Boban sacked the day before completely knocked the wind out of a team who were growing and having a run of great form. Shortly thereafter, I had the privilege of talking to Asmir Begović on my podcast, who played that match due to Gigio’s injury. He said that playing behind closed doors was eerie, and “the game is not right without the fans…the fans are what makes it the biggest and best sport in the world.”

Deflated and alone, without fans just before the shutdown

However, to everyone’s regret, to bring football back at all, it had to be without fans. The break was a blessing for Milan, because it gave Pioli some time to train the team without the constant stream of games, much like a preseason training. Because of the series of events that occurred this season, starting with Giampaolo, switching to Pioli, bringing in Ibrahimovic and others in January, then the sacking of Boban, and COVID-19 forcing a break, Milan came out of the restart on fire and never looked back. And they did this without the fans.

Better alone?

Many have surmised that Milan did better without their fans, specifically, who have often brought more vitriol than support to the stadium and especially online. There was the time when they blockaded the garage so neither the away nor home team could leave, then demanded a meeting with specific players and threatened them with sticks. There were so many times when the Curva turned their backs to the match in protest, walked out, or specifically did not attend at all. There were the banners, some aimed at ownership, but many aimed at the team or specific players. They behaved like members of the mafia, their own agenda coming before their fanship or the team they claimed to support.

Abandoning the club they claimed to love 4 years ago didn't achieve anything

The fans online were worse. Death threats to players and their family members, racial abuse, and targeting certain players enough to impact their form, and in a few cases, actually cause the players to leave the club. There is a belief that anyone can say anything online, without consequence, but Milan are a club that provides evidence that there are direct consequences.

Another consequence of the overwhelming anger and entitlement of the fans was attendance in the stadium. Those who came would often whistle and jeer even the bench players as their names were being called. Literally, the players were not even playing, and these “fans” would attack them. They would do the same for players who were playing, not only as they were announced, but as they played. All of this with no thought of the consequences to the team they were claiming to support.

They abused Gigio and Antonio, then told them to get out

Ownership and management changes and decisions, not having stability, and so many other things have impacted the performances of the team these past ten years. But Milan fans stuck with the abuse, even as promising changes were made and results actually improved. So COVID-19 was actually a blessing for the team, because it pulled this cancer that is the Milan fanbase out of the equation and let them just play.

Supporting their club. As it should be.

After that display this summer, Milan fans seem to be on the supporting your team bandwagon again, but who knows for how long? They are more volatile than a stick of dynamite in a fire. Maybe it’s better that fans cannot come to the stadium still? Or maybe, just maybe, this renaissance of good football and good signings and good results at Milan will heal their cancer, and they will support in good faith once again?

Can't we just go back to trolling Juve's CL losses again?

I miss the atmosphere that fans bring to the stadium so much. I always think back to the one match I was able to see at San Siro, and how much the presence of 70,000 fans impacted me. But I also miss the passion they give to the players, and how the players interact with the fans in the stadium. The saddest thing I’ve ever seen was the final match of this past season, another win for Milan, and the team quietly leaving the pitch to go to the dressing room, no fans to acknowledge them. And especially Bonaventura’s sad farewell, alone on the pitch, when he should have been adored by 70,000 fans.

Until the death... or maybe if we get upset about something again

The fans absolutely have a massive impact on the matches. They have the power to lift, the power to adore, and also the power to deflate the players individually and collectively. The chants, the coreo, the applause have the power to take a match from 0-60 mph in seconds. We don’t know how long it will be before fans can attend matches again, the Italian federation is working on it. But when fans are allowed to attend again, what will be their impact? Will they finally remember how to use their powers to support their team? Or will the team be impacted negatively by their own fans again? Maybe COVID-19 has been a blessing for Milan, because they’ve been able to play their best without the impact of the fans.

This post inspired by the music of Cake’s “Never There”

The Impact of the Fans The Impact of the Fans Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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