AN INTERNATIONAL GATHERING

On the eve of Chelsea’s pre-season match in Malaysia last Sunday, I read a report in one of the local dailies about an intrepid fan from China who had travelled south to watch the Blues in action on the Here to Play, Here to Stay Tour.

Soccer - Chelsea FC Pre Season Tour - Malaysia XI v Chelsea - Shah Alam Stadium

He had been in Bangkok where the Thai Chelsea Supporters’ Club had rolled out the blue carpet, welcoming members of supporters’ clubs in China, Vietnam, India and Nepal by hosting an Asian Supporters Club meeting.

However, despite his pleasure at seeing the Blues in action against the Singha All-Stars, he claimed that his seat at the Rajamangala Stadium had been too far from the action. So while the rest of his cohorts returned home to China after the game, he caught an onward flight to Kuala Lumpur to watch Chelsea play again at the Shah Alam Stadium.

He claimed that he would have gone on to Jakarta for the final leg of the Asian tour as well if he hadn’t already maxed out his credit card.

Now I’m not sure if there were any fans that had travelled further than he had just to watch the match but there certainly was a cosmopolitan gathering at Shah Alam that evening to watch the Blues trounce Malaysia 4-1.

Granted that Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country with a population that is made up largely of people of Malay, Chinese and Indian extraction. But in the stands that night, you could also see and hear people of many different ethnicities – from Europe, Africa and other parts of Asia – seated next to each other and sharing in the experience of watching a Chelsea game.

Some of them live and work in KL but there were many others like the intrepid Chinese fan and myself who had travelled to the Malaysian capital to see the 2013-14 edition of Chelsea Football Club take shape.

Speaking as a Singapore Eurasian with a curious Anglo-Portuguese name, it was a heartening sight to see so many fans of different nationalities coming together for the love of one team.

It pleases me to say that the closest thing to trouble that day came when one fan, either cluelessly or foolishly, decided to sit amongst a sea of Chelsea fans while provocatively wearing a Manchester United shirt.

It could have been the cue for something nasty but instead it set up one of the more light-hearted moments of the evening as the crowd around him started chanting ‘Buka’ (Malay for ‘open’) and convinced him to change from what he was wearing to a Chelsea kit with David Luiz’s #4 emblazoned on the back.

To be fair, he took it all in good humour and even posed for photos with some of his ‘assailants’ afterwards. Whatever the case, I think that many of us there would concur that he did look much better in blue then he did in red.

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