Traveling for the love of soccer – what is groundhopping, or stadium tourism?

Traveling for the love of soccer – what is groundhopping, or stadium tourism?
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Soccer fans are increasingly moving around the world to stand on the turf of the largest stadiums in the world and see as many matches as possible. The record-breakers have travelled 92 pitches in 72 hours!

Groundhopping – what is it?

The name, which comes from English, is a combination of two words: ground – pitch and hop – jump, which in direct translation into Polish gives a not very sophisticated phrase: jumping on the pitches. However, it reflects the basic idea of groundhopping, that is “jumping” after as many football matches as one can manage. Fans finish watching a game in one place and immediately go to another stadium to watch another game. Over time, this initiative has even evolved into a charity race.

In England, an association called The 92 Club was formed and its members set themselves the goal of visiting all Premier Football League stadiums where football matches are played. Thus was born the idea to organize races – who will be the first to tour all 92 stadiums. Unsurprisingly, in 2015, four Swindon Town fans accomplished this feat in just 72 hours, setting a record.

The hobby itself, on the other hand, has its roots back in the 1970s in the UK. Later it gradually spread to the countries of Central and Northern Europe (i.e. those located on the democratic side of the Iron Curtain).

Groundhopping not for everyone?

Theoretically, every soccer fan can take part in the game – all you need is a heart for football. Unfortunately, the material reality verifies this issue a bit. Stadium tourism is not a cheap business at all. Travelling to matches in Poland doesn’t have to affect your wallet that much, although in times of rising inflation it can be a bit of a pain to fill up at a petrol station. Numerous games, however, should quickly compensate for this sadness. 

Fans of the Primera División or English Football League etc. have a more difficult situation. A trip abroad to follow live games in Spain, England, Italy or Germany costs at least several thousand zlotys and weeks of preparation. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford such a game, and some simply do not have the time.

However, not everyone has to chase the record-breakers from Swindon Town, for years the method of “travelling after the club” has been known. This will be all the easier if the games take place in the Commonwealth. However, should anyone wish to travel outside Poland, it is worth remembering that the borders of countries belonging to the Schengen Area – especially after the removal of restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic – can be crossed freely.

Groundhopping rules

In the countries where groundhopping enjoys the greatest interest, i.e. England and Germany, among others, have been established that have regulated the rules concerning this specific form of “sports tourism”. The rules are as follows:

  1. The matches must have some league significance, it cannot be a simple sparring match.
  2. You must see the meeting from start to finish.
  3. You are not allowed to leave the stadium.
  4. You have to show proof that you were at the game, e.g. a photo or a ticket. 

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