Fan fare

  • TEXT ANDREAS BOCK
  • ILLUSTRATION MATT JOHNSON

A goal would hit the spot right now… or a snack! Soccer and food are both basic human needs. Luckily for us, sports stadiums offer both

© Matt Johnson

England

Meat pie

The meat pie allegedly owes its place in the history of soccer (chants) to one William “Fatty” Foulke, a 300-pound goalkeeper for Sheffield United around 1900. At every away game, the opposing team’s fans are said to have taunted: “Who ate all the pies?” More than a century later, that same chant can still be heard in ­English soccer stadiums – especially when players return to the pitch at the end of the summer break carrying a few extra pounds.

© Matt Johnson

Argentinia

Choripán

In 2017, the British soccer magazine FourFourTwo compiled a bucket list of the “53 things a fan should do before they die.” One was: Eat a choripan in Argentina. Lionel Messi’s favorite food, it’s a kind of greasy, spicy hotdog that you eat as you walk to the stadium. When the FC Barcelona star got out of shape, his manager, Pep Guardiola, banned him from eating two things: chocolate peanuts and choripan. It helped.

© Matt Johnson

Austria

Schnitzelsemmel & Käsekrainer

Slap a slice of breaded, fried meat the size of a ping-pong paddle into a light wheat bun, add some lettuce as a garnish and you’re done. “Schnitzelsemmel” (schnitzel in a bun) is eaten mostly at Austria and Rapid Wien games. A few years ago, the “Käsekrainer” (a cheese-filled sausage) sparked a dispute between Austria and Slovenia, which won protected status for “its” sausage. The Viennese often call it “ulcer sausage” due to the color of the oozing cheese. Yum.

© Matt Johnson

USA + Kanada

Nachos XXL + Cola XXL

The flavor of international friendship: Mexican fast food, and nachos in particular, is all the rage with Major League Soccer fans, especially on the west coast. Many fans start snacking on tortilla chips hours before the kick-off at tailgate parties, which are held in the stadium parking lot: Drive up in your car, open the trunk and get munching on baked cheese nachos garnished with jalapeño peppers.

© Matt Johnson

Sweden

Hotdog

Red frankfurter-type sausages (røde pølser) are a great ­favorite at Swedish soccer matches. Here’s one of the best Zlatan Ibrahimović quotes: “First I moved to the left, and so did he. Then I moved to the right, and so did he. Then I moved left again and he went to get a hot dog.” If you think the eccentric striker was talking about a persistent autograph hunter, he wasn’t: It was Liverpool FC’s Swiss defender Stéphane Henchoz.

© Matt Johnson

Spain

Bocata de jamón

In Spanish stadiums, you’ll hear this over and over again at half-time: “Quiero un bocata!” The Spanish like their bocatas (buns) best with jamón (ham) or chorizo (spicy sausage), and many bring their own from home. Speaking of meat at Spanish stadiums: In 2002, just after Luis Figo had transferred from Barcelona to arch-rival Real Madrid, fans brought a pig’s head to the clásico game between the two teams to throw at Figo during the match.

© Matt Johnson

Germany

Bratwurst and Beer

In Germany, soccer and sausages are inseparable. In 2009, a club called “Fußballwurst” (soccer sausage) was set up to determine which German stadium served the best grilled sausages. The winners were FC Villingen 08 and USC Paloma Hamburg. Legendary ex-pro Willi Landgraf still raves about the ones at the old Aachen Tivoli. “It was so drafty there, the sausage smell wafted right onto the pitch. That was tough.”

© Matt Johnson

Southafrica

Biltong

The biltong is even more popular in South African stadiums than the vuvuzela horn. It comes from the Dutch words bil (hindquarter) and tong (tongue). The jerky-style salty dried meat (beef, ostrich or kudu) is reputedly so addictive that Cape Town has biltong self-help groups. Rugby professional Sam Broster was banned for two years in 2014 for drug use. In his defense, he pleaded that all he he’d done was eat biltong.