By Anthony Christiana aka anthony

And it’s Arsenal, Arsenal FC! We’re by far the greatest team the world has ever seen.” This is one of many famous chants that I have sung over the years from my living room. Following a European soccer team living in the United States is not an easy thing. We all know about the exposure of soccer here in the states. The popularity has grown in the past years but it is nowhere near the leagues played in the rest of the world. Don’t even get me started about the skills that the players have compared to Americans. Look at David Beckham or Thierry Henry, they are coming here in their late thirties and outplaying and outclassing the players in their twenties that are in the prime of their career. I myself got the opportunity to play with a youth star from FC Barcelona back in high school and he outplayed our entire state championship team. Soccer in Europe is a league of its own and it has been a lifelong dream of mine to travel to London and instead of chanting at a TV, I can support my team with thousands of others.

The biggest struggle with being an Arsenal fan in the United States, is of course, the price. The fans that live in London just have to go to the game, simple. Oh how I wish it were that easy for me. I am currently planning my first trip to London at the end of December through the beginning of January and I am watching the dollar signs flash through my head as I add up all my expenses. First off, who is going to go to London for one day, watch a game and fly home? I am spending almost a grand on my round trip flight, I am going to make the best of my trip. I will be leaving from JFK airport the night of the 28th of December and returning January 4th at night, so I will have a whole week to enjoy myself. While in London, I will have to worry about food, transportation, hotel expenses and any souvenirs. Sights to see in London range from the tower bridge to Big Ben, not to mention that is all before I even buy the ticket to the game. So one fans one hundred fifty dollar ticket turns into a two thousand dollar trip for another.

Then there are the tickets. Oh how I wish it was an easier process. In England, it is illegal to sell tickets through a 3rd party company. The only place you can buy them is directly through the box office of the team, and the headache doesn’t end there. Arsenal are one of the most popular teams in England and getting the tickets is not easy, so it should be no surprise that there is a money scheme that the team is going to exploit to bring in more revenue. The first tickets that go on sale, which is two months before the game, go to season ticket holders and sliver club members. In order to get a silver club membership, you must be a red member for at least two years. Red members get to buy their tickets one month before game day and it costs $50 per year to be a red member. I am currently a red member for Arsenal so getting tickets will be a bit easier, plus the game I plan on attending is against a low key team. All I know is I have to be up at 5 am on December 1st on my computer ready to snatch a ticket. I was told that red members are guaranteed 3,500 seats plus what isn’t scooped up by silver members, so I should be fine! As a diehard Arsenal fan I am willing to pay whatever price they throw at me. Plus, I can get midfield field level seats for $150 dollars. Try getting any tickets to a New England Patriots game for that price!

The fan base for Arsenal is iconic. It isn’t as many as Barcelona or Real Madrid or Manchester United, but it’s not about the amount of fans, it’s about the passion and support given. Every single match that I watch, players are always playing to their fullest. After the game is over a lot of the players sign for fans at no cost stay at the stadium thanking them for their constant support, and so much more. I believe European soccer isn’t just a sport, it is a community. We love our teams and our teams love the fans.

Being an Arsenal fan in the United States the one major thing I could see being improved it the accommodates the team could offer for its international fans. It is hard to get tickets to these games in the first place and we still have to worry about when to go and where we are going to stay while we are there. Arsenal currently does not have it, but other teams such as Chelsea and Manchester United are partnered with a company called James Cook, where you pay for your plane tickets, transportation, hotels and match day rickets all through that company and gets you discounted rates and guaranteed seats at the stadium. Every match so many tickets are pre-allocated to James Cook, so the company only puts out as many packages out as has available. More teams I could see benefiting from this service greatly.

I have been following Arsenal since 1999. I grew up in a family from Italy and England. My British side were all Manchester United fans and my Italian side were all AC Milan fans and I was always pressured to pick a side. One day I was watching a Manchester United game with my uncle, Arsenal versus Manchester United. The was the day one of the most iconic Arsenal goals were scored. Thierry Henry flicked the ball up spun around and volleyed it into the back of the net from twenty yards out. Intentional or not it is one of the most famous Arsenal goals of all time. From that day forward I was a proud Gunner and never looked back. I cannot wait until I get the chance to see them play in January. To me, they are indeed by far the greatest team the world has ever seen.