Is the English Premier League similar to the ABSA Premiership?
Being an avid soccer fan brings some exposure that another can only imagine. Following your favourite club in the English Premier League brings knowledge about the league, that is the culture of football in England, media coverage, infrastructure only to mention but just a few. However, being from Africa, I am also exposed to the South African ABSA Premiership which is quite entertaining. Passionately following local football has helped me in realizing the similarities between the English Premier League and the South African ABSA Premiership. The most notable one being the fact that both the ABSA Premiership and the EPL are widely regarded as the best domestic leagues on their respective continents. Allow me to compare the two.
Collectively, the English Premier League teams have the biggest financial backing in the world let alone the European continent. The English clubs have enough funding to compete with European clubs 2x bigger and with a richer history than them. For example, Chelsea managed to steal Eden Hazard from Lille under the noses of Real Madrid who were also interested in the player back in 2012. Today, only Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Real Madrid can compete with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United on the transfer market. This dominance sees the best players joining the English League and improving the level of competition. The South African ABSA Premiership is also the dominant league in Africa with the largest financial backing. To put things into perspective, the local cup competition in South Africa has bigger prize money than the CAF tournament - which happens to be the “UEFA Champions League” for African teams.
Secondly, fan support in England has some striking resemblances with that down south. Many soccer fans support their local teams before other global teams. The population of Luton is about 211,000 and most of the locals support Luton Town despite the club being in the 2nd division. They attend the matches whenever and wherever they are played. This however does not mean that they cannot have other teams they support in the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, French Ligue 1, German Bundesliga among others. Same applies to fan support in South Africa. The locals support their teams just as much as they support the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid. There are intense derby matches respected in South Africa just as much as the El Classico in Spain. The South Africans sing at the top of their lungs and blow the vuvuzela creating an amazing atmosphere for the home teams.
England has some of the best soccer stadiums in the present day. Walking into Anfield, Emirates Stadium, Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and Etihad as a visitor is a frightening experience if you’re supporting the away team on the night. However, it is a lovely experience for the tourists who tour the stadiums in admiration of the work put into building these artefacts built decades ago. Africa has made efforts to follow in these footsteps if not bettering them. The 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa saw many state of the art stadiums built across the African nation. To date, we take pride in the turfs at Moses Mabhida, FNB Stadium among others. These stadiums were beautifully made and can easily be used to host some of the biggest matches in world football.
Some players prefer to play in the English Premier League because of the quality of treatment given to injured players. The infrastructure in the country is up there with the best which makes it conducive for players to give their all on the pitch knowing they will be taken care of in case of accidents. However, even so, some players are seen being transferred to South Africa for special treatment. Adam Lallana of Liverpool came to Africa for his rehabilitation after his latest lengthy injury. This shows that South Africa provides the ABSA Premiership with the infrastructure that a player needs when they are on the treatment table.
However, based on their geographical locations, there are bound to be differences between the two soccer leagues. I think what separates the South African ABSA Premiership from any other league is the style of play. I find this more entertaining because of the number of long shots taken in this competition which keeps the average fan on the edge of their seats. Hlompho Kekana is the common culprit causing this discomfort. Watch the ABSA Premiership, and you’ll know what I am talking about.