As I sat and watched Juventus' match against the ISL Stars on shoddy internet here in the States, I had one thought going through my head. Well, maybe more than one, but there was certainly one thought bubble dominating things during the course of the match: "This place sounds like Juventus Stadium."
It was almost like I was watching a game in Turin simply because of the atmosphere that was taking place right on my (chopped up) computer feed. The truth was, however, Juventus were playing in a stadium that's an 18-hour flight away from their home stadium.
The best part of it all?
This blog, Black & White & Read All Over, had a select few who were in attendance to see Fernando Llorente score a hat trick, Andrea Pirlo's wonderful beard in person, and the rest of the Juventus contingent that made the trip to Jakarta. And with Juve playing Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium, I asked some of these folks a simple question: With all the support Juventus has gotten the past few days in your country, what do you think it means to have them there? You know, just talk about the experience at the Juve game and what it was like to see the team we stress over so much and so often play right in front of you.
So, without further adieu, this is what our fellow BWRAO readers had to say about Juventus coming to town.
I think we Indonesian Juventini have not embarrassed ourselves in terms of passion — shown by unrelenting chants, coreo, etc. — and dedication —some folks from eastern parts of the country traveled 2,000-plus KM. There were a couple of minor incidents that could've been anticipated and improved upon (details of which I'd rather not say, but I won't begrudge you or fellow Indonesian for specifically sharing them; that is, if you weren't already in the know of what I'm referring to). However, they didn't mar the experience as a whole.
As for some downsides:
1. No Vidal — except for some casual kicking about in the open training session. Several fellow Juventini around me then, and on the match day, cursed and resigned. This means he's going away.
2. Shame I could not attend the gathering at the airport and/or the hotel. Could've hunted for SP20's signature...
3. Sorry I cannot provide any media (photo/video) myself, I'm not really a camera guy. Obviously there are plenty everywhere else, though.
Oh, perhaps I haven't said this [enough]: Grazie Juve!
Juventus wasn't playing against ISL All-Stars, it was the other way around. GBK was Juventus' second home Wednesday. You'd rarely see an Indonesian national team or some local team jersey. It was an ocean of black and white. The crowd was great, I am proud of my fellow Indonesian Juventini. I hope the players can sense our love to the club.
I've posted one or two things about my history as a Juve fans before our forum since I joined SB Nation (and the Offside). In short I have been a Juventini since 1994. Twenty years is a long time for me to finally able to cheer the Old Lady not in front of a television, at a football stadium, where Juventus play.
I walked a lot yesterday, due to Indonesian's inability to provide adecquate mass transportation to GBK, but hell it worth every step that I walked. I stood 1 1/2 hours at a single spot just to be able to record by the time the bus entered the GBK. I was screaming like some k-pop fan, from the moment the bus entered the GBK to the end of the match.
I called every single Juventus player's and director's name when one was at my voice coverage area (it reached the subtitute's bench before the match started, FYI). I felt joy when Vidal waved to the crowd after I sang "Arturo Vidal Ale" followed by a choir of hundreds juventini from my sector singing the cori.
For the first time in my life, I can't see clearly how Juve played in the match, but I didn't feel annoyed by it. Hell, I was having fun!
Conclusion: Yesterday was one of the best moments of my life.
Right, so what does this friendly means? Let's state the obvious first: For Indonesian Juventini, it means the world that their beloved team finally came to this country. It means that they are acknowledged, that the club admits that Indonesia is one of the biggest market in the world. In a country plagued with copyright infringements, that's a big thing.
Some might dismiss Juve coming to Indonesia as a "one-off thing," that the promoter pays them nice money to come, so they come. But let's think about it one second. I have no doubt that Juve receives numerous offers for a friendly in rich countries everywhere. But they picked Indonesia. The direct income is minuscule, almost a non-factor, actually. I'm pretty sure the income would be bigger had they agreed to come to the US with the big boys, rather than going to Indonesia, Australia, and Singapore.
I think what the club is really aiming for is to test the market, to see firsthand the club's presence in such remote locations, so far from Turin that it was unimaginable to see Italian chants in the stadia. Knowing that the club has such a huge following here opens a plethora of options for the club. For example, now that they know that Juve has a large fanbase in Indonesia, they can leverage it in the negotiation for sponsorship with a company / product who is aiming to grow its footprint in the world's third populous country. Or, they could actually approach companies who are trying to enter this market.
Another option is to actually set up a direct logistic route to minimize shipping cost for online shopping in Indonesia, to allow fans here to purchase genuine Juve merchandise. If demand is good, they can even open a Juve Store (although I don't see this happening soon in Indonesia). Agnelli talked about leveraging virtual network, so I can imagine them doing something like this. They can also partner with tourism agency in Indonesia to offer a Turin tour which focuses on Juventus Stadium, Museum and Continassa.
We have to admit that at the end of the day, this is all business. No, they didn't come here simply to "give back" to the Indonesian tifosi for their support. The goal is actually much more money driven. They are testing the market, and so far the result is quite satisfactory. The Agnelli Bloomberg interview clearly state that the goal is to monetize the fanbase, and this is definitely a phase in that plan. The management is trying to develop a brand, a worldwide brand that is Juventus, with dollar (or euro) being the end goal.
Ideally, this strategic plan is launched conjointly with a new, bigger, bolder, and more internationalized Serie A marketing, in order to maximize result. But the actual situation is that there are too many useless heads in Lega and FIGC (and to some extent in Italian government) that Juve has no option but to move ahead of the pack, leading the charge for change. Roma to some extent is trying to do the same thing, but (I think) they encountered a huge setback when their plan to acquire the land for the new stadium was rebuffed by the local government.
Ah well. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
Andri (silent reader)
For 16 years...
- There were times when I could only watch Juventus game on television. Not all of them, of course, only the aired ones. Some of them on late Sunday nights, or even around 2 a.m.
- There were times when I got info about Juve only from TV highlights, which is only aired 30 minutes a week every Saturday at 1.30 p.m. I needed to get back from school as fast as possible or I would miss it.
- There were times when I could only get info about Juve and a newspaper twice a week. Me and six other Serie A fans would collect some money to buy those newspapers. We read it together. (Remember Bola & Go era, Indonesian Juventini?)
- There were times, too, when I could only listen to the radio because I couldn't afford to buy a TV. Yes, from RADIO! Have you ever nervously waited for the radio broadcaster to announce the Juve vs. Milan result? Oh God, that adrenalin.
I believe many of Indonesian Juventini have that painful yet joyful experiences, not only me.
And now, years later, suddenly, we have a rare chance to watch them live on the stadium packed with Juventini singing various chants, waving flags, banners, & flares. Can you imagine our feelings? Words can't describe. Just can't.
Thank you to all of those who replied to the last-minute request of yours truly. And thanks to everybody who attended the friendly earlier this week. Like many of the Juve players themselves, I was thoroughly impressed.
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