Atypical among soccer news sites, /r/soccer is more of a content aggregator, featuring content posted by sources in many different languages and from across the globe. However, it, like most of reddit, is chiefly a forum, and the soccer subreddit allows people from around the world to discuss the sport with other likeminded people in English. On any given day, one can find discussion on the purity of Ronaldo’s goals, Arsenal’s transfer targets, and the eligibility of a German/American youth prospect. However, the crown jewel of /r/soccer is definitely the mass availability of high quality .gifs. Popping up seemingly seconds after a goal or other such highlight happens, these potentially 1080p 60 frames per second (for the big games) masterpieces essentially make the consumption of normal highlight shows irrelevant, as the content is available right at your fingertips immediately.
The significance of these gifs simply cannot be overstated. The content creators, anonymous denizens of the internet, are providing a better service than the paid professionals around the world. They can either pop up as separate submissions on the front page of the subreddit, with descriptive titles such as “Marcelo Bielsa accidentally sits on his coffee during Marseille-Toulouse” or in so called “match threads” that provide a running commentary of matches as well as a venue to discuss them, complete with links to highlights.
This brings me to my next point: match threads. These match threads can be absolutely surreal experiences for big games such as the final of the World Cup or the Champions League. It is possibly the closest reproduction of being in a crowd of fans, live at the stadium. While the emotion might not be there, you are still having a discussion with hundreds, if not thousands, of people at a time, reacting live to the events happening on the screens in front of you. Some extreme examples include the World Cup Final thread, which had 19,196 comments, and the United States/Belgium thread, which cracked 20,000 comments. The comments can be sorted to be viewed according to the newest posted, but the default setting is “top”, which correlates to most thumbs upped. An example of a highly upvoted comment, from the Germany/Portugal match thread, was “Honestly, as a US fan, this is pretty much watching two bullies fight over who gets to give you a wedgie”. They are generally full of banter and highly entertaining.
In addition, /r/soccer produces some original content. The premier example of this original content is the fairly recent Fallon d’Floor award. Started for a laugh, it eventually went viral, spawning thousands of votes before finally doling out the award to Leeds United’s Adryan’s pathetic “fish out of water” dive against Derby County in the English Football League Championship.
However, it would be unfair to mention all of the positive aspects of /r/soccer without mentioning its many downsides. Most of them come from the users themselves, the people that make up that match threads and discuss the news that is posted to the subreddit. As reddit is, essentially, a crowdsourced site, the users decide with their votes what content makes it to the top of the subreddit’s front page. So, the majority of the content is from the Premier League, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich. That is what the userbase wants to see, so the subreddit is forced to bend to their will and highlight those leagues, while generally not paying much attention to other leagues and lower profile teams.
In addition, the comments themselves have their own issues. There is a significant problem with a certain type of group think, when everyone around you just regurgitates the same idea or point over and over. The threads can sometimes be an echo chamber of “Robben is a diver”, “Pepe is just so unclassy” and “Chel$ea buys all their titles” sentiments. The ideas expressed repeatedly in these threads then become a part of the culture of the subreddit, which will continue to publish these ideas over and over again, creating the sort of echo chamber.
Lastly, in terms of criticisms, is the presence of a sort of xenophobia. Reddit is an American site, so naturally there will be a large amount of Americans on just about any subreddit. However, being a community for the overwhelmingly most popular sport in Europe and South America, there are a disproportionately large amount of those Europeans and South Americans. The Europeans tend to see the Americans on /r/soccer, especially those that follow European powerhouse clubs, as a blight upon the sport and as plastic fans. This leads to a certain natural conflict between Europeans and Americans. Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, there is no similar form of disdain for Australians, who “glory hunt” for European clubs just the same as Americans.
Despite its faults, /r/soccer is a fine place to find and discuss soccer news and matches, as long as one can develop a thick skin and skill at identifying trolls that plague online communities.
A minor warning: some of the comments may contain explicit or otherwise offensive language.