Meet the Roligans: the world’s friendliest fans

by Sebastian Hassett on May 05, 2018

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There’s been a lot of bad press in the past year or two about the dangers of Russian hooligans at the 2018 World Cup.

I’m not one for using the term #fakenews flippantly, but you’re absolutely barking mad if you think this is going to be even the slightest issue for Australian fans in Russia.

All you’ll meet are happy Russians, thrilled that you’ve made the journey over. I covered that off in my last column, but today I want to talk about the fans of the other teams in our group who are coming to cheer their team in Russia.

One of the great joys of going to a World Cup is meeting fans from rival teams, in rival colours, who just want to have a good time.

Perhaps it’s a bit different if you’re coming up against a nation with who you share an awkward history, but Australia doesn’t have too many of those in football. I’m sure we’d even get along fine with Uruguayan fans these days.

I’ll never forget the night before the game against the Netherlands in Porto Alegre, when the two sets of fans embarked on an impromptu street party that raged into the night. There have been too many nights like this to even begin counting.

This year, I think we’re going to have a blast with fans from our group’s countries in Russia.

The French don’t have a reputation as the world’s most loved tourists – they would say the same about us, no doubt – but I’ve always found that they find their friendliest side during major tournaments.

They have a hell of a team this year and the excitement around Les Blues is palpable. Let’s just say that Kazan is big enough for both of us.

As for the Peruvians, half of them will still be in raptures just to be at a World Cup. But in typical South American fashion, they will travel in spectacular numbers.

Who knows when Peru will be at a World Cup again – I strongly suspect it could be a while– and I still can’t believe they snuck in ahead of World Cup regulars like Chile, Paraguay and Ecuador. If ever there will be a nation that soaks up the fun, it will be them.

Which leads me to the Danes. Here’s a prediction: the Australian fans will have more fun with the Danish fans than anyone else when we meet each other in Samara. Why? Because they’re basically the Australian fans of Europe.

Known as “Roligans”, Danish national team fans have a single ambition: to support their team as loudly as possible whilst having as much fun as possible – and making as many friends as possible.

The word “rolig” actually means calm in Danish, which is slight misnomer. They’re as passionate as any fans in Europe. The major difference is that they actively promote a peaceful method of supporting their team and dealing with opposition fans.

Indeed, that is the spirit of the World Cup. And it’s the spirit that all Australian fans have brought with them to every tournament we’ve qualified for since 2006.

Apart from the football, of course, it’s this wonderful element of the World Cup that I’m looking forward to the most.