Posted by: Sarah | June 18, 2010

World Cup…And The Norwegians Support Goes To…


…England…well some Norwegians support England. 

We are currently watching England play Algeria in South Africa, from our house in Norway with Swedish commentary…interesting to say the least.  The game has just gone into half time and we’re now listening to some Swedish chit chat and I thought what a great opportunity to tell you about Norwegians relationship with English football. 

Norway isn’t in the World Cup.  Norwegians prefer to save their energy for winter sports, making sure they top the charts when it comes to overall winter olympic medals.  However, the Norwegians love their football and moreover, they love English football with many Norwegians supporting an English football team such as Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool.  I find this fascinating since loyalty like this normally happens when people have a historical link to the city so how do Norwegians pick the English team they want to support when the live so far away? 

I did a little research after my colleague Michael gave me some insight into what may have caused this unusual relationship.  Apparently after WW1 the printed media occasionally reported on English football and by the 1930’s cigarette cards with the pictures of English footballers became immensely popular with kids in Norway.  In 1946 they introduced the “pools” betting system based mainly on English games – this proved a massive success and before long NRK (the main Norwegian TV channel) started broadcasting regular live coverage of English games on Saturday afternoons (apparently known as Tippekampen).  Since the winters were (and still are) long and dark in Norway, this program became the highlight of the week for many and so the tie between Norway and English football became stronger.   

This love of football has passed through the generations and you will now often see plane loads of Norwegians, such as my colleague Kai, flying backwards and forwards to cities such as Liverpool to watch a game.  I often wonder if there’s an opportunity to be had every time I go back to England – perhaps bringing an extra suitcase stuffed full of football memorabilia back into Norway for those budding supporters to buy!    

Anyway, to come full circle and back to the World Cup…because Norwegians support many of the English teams they often extend their support to England.  So as I sit here watching the England vs Algeria match (which isn’t really going anywhere at 66 minutes in) I know that I’m in good company here in Norway since many will also be watching the game and cheering for England!   

Thanks Norway – we appreciate the support.  Next time please can you extend that support to our Eurovision song?  :-) 

Read more about the link between Norway and English football here >>>

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