How Foreign People Become Packers Fans

Following football, and the Packers specifically, could be a challenge outside of the US

Imagine a world where you turn on the TV and there are soccer games in every sports channel. Imagine a place where you have basically no access to NFL games, and you don’t even know other people who have an idea of what football is, and specific terms spoken in another language are somewhat unrelatable. Now think about other places where the best NFL games start at 2 am on Monday.

Supporting the Green Bay Packers is something natural to people who grow up in Wisconsin or even in other states of the US. But it's certainly unusual for international fans. First of all, a person needs to get interested in football, a sport that is marginal outside of the United States. In most places, soccer dominates.

Then, after someone falls in love with the NFL, there are 32 options to support, with no geographical propensity. The odds are low. How, then, a foreign fan starts to cheer for the Packers? There are different stories from different countries, but the cultural aspect of the team, the ownership structure and the small market are common attractive factors.

"Since the beginning of the 90s, I sympathized with football and the NFL, through a little game I had on the computer, and soon after on Mega Drive with Joe Montana's game. The Packers were one of the teams I enjoyed playing with the most. But it was with the popularity of Brett Favre and the mid 90s Packers, and then during my exchange program, that I definitely became a fan and started following Green Bay more closely", said Guilherme Behs, a Brazilian Packers fan who co-founded fanpage Cheeseheads BR.

Following the NFL abroad has become easier in the last decade with a significant jump in popularity, but simply watching games was already a challenge some years ago. In South America, for example, the NFL doesn't air on broadcast television, and just people with access to cable TV or the Game Pass are able to watch it. And it was even harder 20, 30 years ago.

"I started following the Packers in 1991, when cable TV arrived in my country", says Fernando Medeiros, a Uruguayan fan who hosts the Spanish-speaking YouTube channel CheeseChat. "We had two games a week, both on ESPN/CBS. Majik Man was the QB then. It sure is (easier to follow the team now). When I started, and the Packers weren't playing on prime time, we just had the halftime report with a few images, maybe two or three plays, to realize if we had won or not, and the Internet wasn't available yet", said Fernando, who is the guy on the photo of this piece during a visit to Lambeau Field in 2017.

There are also fans who started supporting the team more recently, during the Internet era. But it doesn't necessarily mean that it's all easy. For Irish fan Daire Carragher, prime time games in Europe mean late night/early morning games. Something he has learned to like.

"I love staying up late for games. Maybe that opinion will change as I get older, but the beauty of watching the Packers in the early hours of the morning is that there is nothing to get in your way. No work/family commitments will ever get in the way of watching primetime NFL games because when they're on, everyone else on this island is asleep", highlights Daire, who covers the Packers for American-based websites 247 Sports, Packer Report and PFF.

Near the US, the reality is starting to get more interesting. Eduardo Orvañanos, from Mexico City, followed his dad in Packers fandom and says there is now a big football fanbase in the country.

"The (Packers) fanbase here is absurdly large. The sport has grown massively the last 10-15 years, almost everyone here loves football now. And every time I go out, I see at least one person with some type of Packers attire. And to my surprise, most of the time it is the only colors I see on the street", Orvañanos said. "The Packers should play one game here in Azteca Stadium before 12 retires. I guarantee it would break the record for most Packers fans in a stadium".

The Green Bay Packers are going to play in London this season, another step in the direction to internationalize the brand. But the path is marked: the Packers are a worldwide team.

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Wendell Ferreira covers the Green Bay Packers for Zone Coverage and Cheesehead TV. He is a Brazilian journalist with over a decade of experience covering the NFL, soccer, NBA, and MMA. Follow him on twitter at @wendellfp  

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Comments (11)

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Pantz_Burp's picture

May 24, 2022 at 01:10 pm

""I love staying up late for games. Maybe that opinion will change as I get older, but the beauty of watching the Packers in the early hours of the morning is that there is nothing to get in your way."

What a cool statement! Thanks Wendell for this article and the perspective of the challenges of being an NFL football fan outside of the U.S.

THANKs to all you Packer Fans worldwide!🙏👍

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Rarescope's picture

May 24, 2022 at 05:57 pm

New avatar… let me guess - dung beetle? Personally I would have stuck with the GBP helmet wearing man tits. It said everything we needed to know about you. That you don’t give any more than zero Fs about what anyone thinks about you, and that you want to be safe while doing it.

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Pantz_Burp's picture

May 24, 2022 at 10:47 pm

Rare... welcome back! Hope your adventure was most excellent!! And, those are artisan crafted pecs! :D

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PatrickGB's picture

May 24, 2022 at 09:57 am

Thanks for an article that recognizes the fans in other countries. I don’t live in Wisconsin, spent years overseas while on active duty and spend quite some time in Canada. I can definitely sympathize with those who struggle to find any outlet that provides real game time coverages.

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SanLobo's picture

May 24, 2022 at 11:56 am

I was on AD in Germany for years as well as a few deployments, and I agree with the challenges of getting that “Packers fix” we fans crave. I remember a local German bar showed the SuperBowl one year and soldiers packed the place starting around 2am. This before the age of streaming. Lots of commanders made the next day a training holiday, but I was on Division Staff at the time so we just dragged ourselves in for PT at 0630, followed by a long day.
Thanks for serving PatrickGB! Best to you and have a great Memorial Day.

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PatrickGB's picture

May 25, 2022 at 12:22 pm

Thank you Sanlobo. And thanks for your service! Unfortunately, the units I was with often did not have access to any TV. Once in a while we had some internet or radio access but that was it. Most of the time I would find the score and short summary after the game was over. I see vast improvement in coverage from the reports I get from friends still serving or recently out.

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mnbadger's picture

May 24, 2022 at 12:33 pm

Another thank you to the author, well written and well researched. In the 70's my sister and her family lived in Australia. She had to keep up to the Pack via written letters if you can imagine? A little perspective is really good for me and us as a society. We forget how truly fortunate we are to live here in the US and to take advantage of all the good it has to offer. And that other people, even though they don't look, talk, dress, eat, pray. etc like us, are really not very much different than we are. Anyway, bring on TC and GPG!

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fastmoving's picture

May 24, 2022 at 01:57 pm

I had to login, just to give you an extra "t. up"! You really nailed it. Perspective.
Special Thanks form Germany

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Packer_Pete's picture

May 24, 2022 at 02:21 pm

Had to log in just to comment - I grew up in Germany but then studied in Milwaukee for 2 years in the mid 90s. After returning to Germany, I got a dish subscription just for being able to watch NFL games, they showed 4 per weekend at the time. Often the Packers were on, and if so then my friends came over to my place just to watch the game. Often at 2 or 3 am, if it was a Sunday or Monday night game, I think we woke up the entire apartment building when the Packers scored. Fun times... Live in the US again now, and still watch my Packers. My German friends still watch the Packers from Germany, obviously.

Thanks for the article!

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herryubg's picture

May 25, 2022 at 04:53 am

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countrywidedumpster's picture

May 29, 2022 at 09:04 am

Well this is a great article indeed.

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