Even though Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport and people come together to watch it while drinking Hong Thong whiskey every Sunday, European football is a totally different thing. So similar to most other neighboring countries like Malaysia, Laos and Cambodia the preferred football league of Thais is the English Premier League, by far more popular than for example the German Bundesliga.
The most obvious example is if you go in the bars whenever there is English football they show it live. If there is a German match they often just screen Golf or a repetition of the last Premier League game. Now since I am German of course I have asked myself many times why Thai people love English football so much but don’t really care too much about the German, Italian and Spanish leagues.
In this year’s UEFA Champions League no English teams participated in the quarter finals and this just proves how much the other leagues have caught up in quality and success. Tonight the semi-finals are starting and with Bayern – Barcelona and Dortmund – Real Madrid this is just a dream for every football fan and experts all over Europe agree that the currently best teams in Europe are competing here. However, if you ask a Thai guy if he’s looking forward to tonight’s matches he will probably say he doesn’t care too much since Chelsea or Arsenal have already exited to the Europe League several rounds before. He might even consider playing a ManU-Chelsea match on his PlayStation rather than watching Bayern – Barcelona on TV.
The same for world cup matches. I estimate around 70-80% of Thai people support England in these national games. The rest which are mostly girls cheer for countries like Spain or Italy because the players are so handsome and just a few for Germany – since Michael Ballack retired last year.
Another phenomenon is that you see even a lot of Thai girls wearing football jerseys (even though I think most of the time their boyfriends find it sexy and ask them to do so).
So this is the situation but then why are Thai people so crazy about English football? Of course there is no clear answer to this but I have asked a lot of Thai guys and most of them were like “oooh, I don’t know, German football little bit boring no?” or “German football player like soldier.” So that’s what I really think is the reason, it’s still a lot more action in the typical British kick-and-rush football and it’s usually more entertaining and fun to watch than the often more tactical sophisticated but somewhat slower matches in Germany or Italy.
Others say “Oh German football good, Bayern, Schweinsteiger!” but the truth is they don’t watch the Bundesliga and only know the names from the matches between their English favorites.
At least there are some fan clubs for European football teams in Thailand other than Chelsea, ManU and Liverpool, especially on Facebook you find quite a few. And even though relatively small in its member figures, if Thai people like something, they love it and express it. Great example: FC Bayern München Fans Thailand.
More info on football in Thailand: