Football in Iceland: Part 3
By Evan Ream, Communications Manager
Note: With leagues and events slowing down for the summer, NorCal Premier Soccer Communications Manager Evan Ream will be spending the summer blogging about the beautiful game both locally and abroad. To read part 1, click here. To read part 2, click here.
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — This country is populated by people who were descendants of vikings, so it makes sense that arguably Iceland’s most historic soccer club, Vikingur Reyjavik, was named in honor them.
Founded in 1908 by three preteens who wanted simply to raise funds to purchase a ball, Vikingur have since become five-time champions of Iceland, most recently in 1991.
The Icelandic league may play in relative obscurity in one of the world’s most northernmost and smallest nations, but it’s stories like this that are sorely missing from the American soccer landscape.
To think that three kids, the oldest of whom was 12 at the time, founded an institution that has lasted for over 100 years is what true footballing stories are made of.
And the passion supporting such a story didn’t disappoint for the third game in a row.
While nearly half the stadium was filled with fans of 2014 title-winning squad Stjarnan, the home support was as boisterous as it was passionate, with an overflow crowd huddling over the field side sponsorship boards, creating the intimate atmosphere of your local pub team.
Vikingur may not challenge for the Icelandic title anymore, but their facilities and fans were top-notch, negating all the negative factors of playing soccer in a country with a population smaller than Sacramento.
Because taxi’s in Reykjavik are so expensive (a five-mile trip set me back $60), and because of the general lack of public transportation in a city so small, I walked roughly three miles to get to the game.
During the walk, I passed the biggest stadium in Iceland, where the national team plays.
From what I read, it’s been several years since the stadium has failed to sell out its 10,000-seat capacity even though, as you can see, you can clearly just walk up to the game and watch it street side for free.
Though the stadium can fit roughly three percent of the country’s population inside of it, reports suggest that there are plans to expand the stadium further in order to help with the demand of what is now one of world football’s most successful teams.
But really, everything in Iceland is like that: successful.
From the country’s blossoming tourism industry, to the minuscule crime, to the way they play their football, this country really can’t seem to put a foot wrong.
I suggest you go experience it for yourself.