Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Celebrity Soccer Fans

Over the years soccer has had its fair share of celebrity fans in its hotbeds of Europe and South America. RomCom king and Fulham fan Hugh Grant, former Brentford FC apprentice Rod Stewart, one-time Watford FC chairman Sir Elton John, Italian actress and lifelong AS Roma fan Sabrina Ferelli, and Oasis rockers and Manchester City supporters Noel and Liam Gallagher are among the pop culture luminaries who have been regulars in executive boxes at stadiums around the world over the years. Now as soccer is at arguably its most popular level ever in the United States, a new generation of celebrity A-List soccer fan has emerged.

Kim Kardashian at a Chelsea FC Club Party

The most visibly and outspoken of America’s current celebrity soccer fans is comedian and actor Drew Carey. A well-known fan of the United States National Soccer Team, Carey could be spotted in the photographers’ box at U.S. matches at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups. He has since gone on to become a minority owner of the Seattle Sounders F.C. and is a regular in the fan March to the Match through the streets of Seattle to Sounders home games at Quest Field.

Will Ferrell meets Chelsea captain John Terry

NBA All Star, future Hall of Famer and current Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash joins Carey as the other A-List Major League Soccer owner. A gifted soccer player in his own right, Nash gave his full support to the Vancouver’s effort to land Canada’s second MLS franchise in the form of the Vancouver Whitecaps F.C. He went on to become a majority owner of the team and holds the annual Showdown in Chinatown charity soccer match that has attracted players like Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Salomon Kalou (Chelsea F.C.), Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan) and Ryan Babel (Liverpool F.C.) over the past few years.

Soccer’s popularity among the Hollywood set is also evident in the A-Listers that big matches on U.S. shores now attract. For instance, David Beckham’s first match with the L.A. Galaxy in 2007 attracted big names such as Alicia Silverstone, Eva Longoria and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Meanwhile, when Chelsea F.C. hits the West coast for pre-season action, their club parties and matches become hot tickets with everyone from Kim Kardashian to Will Ferrell to Charlize Theron.

Charlize Theron gets a Chelsea FC jersey

With the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League and other world class soccer leagues now beaming into U.S. homes via television and over the internet, soccer is now more readily accessible than ever before. Led by players like Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo (now regulars on E! TV’s nightly news reports), it is also now an integral part of popular culture around the world and, increasingly, in the United States. Thus it is of little surprise that we are seeing more soccer fans, including celebrities, than ever.

Hugh Grant at the 2010 Europa League Final

Photo Credits: Getty Images

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