Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Football Fever in Thailand

It’s only in the Philippines where the global brands allow their focus to shift from football to basketball. There’s a fledging hoops scene in Thailand but the dominant sport here is football.

Along the BTS (sky train) that runs across the Sukhumvit Road (one of the longest in the entire world as it stretches from Bangkok all the way to the border of Cambodia), there are several billboards of the retired (for more than a year now) Zinedine Zidane promoting adidas. In the mall, there are billboards and posters of Liverpool, David Beckham, Barcelona, Ronaldinho, Wayne Rooney, and Francesco Totti among a few. There are a couple devoted to their national team currently ranked at #126 in the world.

In contrast, the only other athletes I’ve seen so far in Bangkok are Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, and LeBron James. That’s two apiece for golf and tennis and one for basketball.

In the Tokyu Department Store right next to MBK (something very similar to Market Market only way better), they have a whole section solely devoted to Manchester United. Authentic football jerseys sell for around 2,200-500 baht. At Centre World, they have an Arsenal store (they still haven't gotten used to Thierry Henry not donning the Gunners' jersey anymore because a larger-than-life shot of him and Cesc Fabregas guard the outside of the store). The adidas stores are primarily described as “Liverpool” stores since they’re awash with posters, streamers, scarves, and jerseys of the football club.

There are few club favorites available but if you’re looking for knock-offs, you’ll find them and all the big names from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kaka, Shevchenko, Ballack, Robinho, Van Nistelrooy to even unlikely names such as Pipo Inzaghi, Torsten Frings, and Jerzy Dudek in MBK or Chatuchak, the weekend street market at the end of the Sukhumvit BTS line. They sell from anywhere from 200-650 baht but be ready to haggle not just for the jerseys but for anything you want to buy.

In Thailand, they’re also lucky to get some of the big club teams to visit during the pre-season. When their national team plays, they pack the national stadium. They have two football divisions to watch and support.

Cable channels? They have several devoted to sports with some football channels showing everything from the Serie A, Bundesliga, La Liga, Premiere League, and Asian football (don’t worry, they also get a lot of NBA games).

Said one friend who has to literally force himself to not watch to stop after awhile, “You can stay glued to the TV forever watching football and sports. It can really be habit forming and I’d never get anything done.”

No comments:

Post a Comment