How soccer will emphasize Austin’s unique culture

Austin is known as the live music capital of the world, with a wide array of food, culture and style of life to compliment the title.

Soon it’ll also be recognized as the soccer capital of the United States, but it’ll need all the help it can get from the Austin community.

So how could Austin and soccer help each other out? Let’s dive in with an example:

When the city of Atlanta announced it would be welcoming in a soccer team, there was a fair amount of backlash from sports pundits. “Atlanta isn’t a soccer city,” was the consensus. How could a city that already had professional football, professional baseball, a massive college, and a slew of other events play host to a soccer team?

They didn’t take into account that soccer could compliment and emphasize their way of life. For Austinites, it’s an opportunity to show the world the vibrant, diverse culture of our city through the lens of soccer.

In professional soccer, one of the greatest ways to see the expression of a city’s heart and soul is through a supporters group. Supporters are like-minded fans identifiable by their grand display of flags, as well as their nonstop chanting, singing, drumming, and scarf-waving during a match. They may go by such names as “outlaws,” “ultras,” “brigade,” or “army” but they all have one mission: to raise as much hell as possible during the match. Austin Anthem is one such supporters group for Austin FC.

Fans independently organize these groups and, as a reflection of that, the groups take a unique shape. As the capital city of a fiercely independent state, I suspect chants and flags to be emblematic of Austin lore and that iconic “Lone Star” mentality.

An even more illustrative expression of Austin’s culture, literally, would come in the form of tifos. Tifos are choreographed by supporters, working together to display a large banner (or banners) of an elaborate image symbolic of the game or team. Here is an example for the Portland Timbers:

Portland used this tifo to emphasize their state’s lumber economy through a play on Bob Ross’ “happy little trees.” A similar effort is used in other clubs with varying levels of creativity and scale.

Austin, having a variety of icons, will not doubt yield an almost limitless arsenal of tifo ideas. Because other sports hardly recognize this practice throughout spectating, professional soccer offers Austin something other sports haven’t: an opportunity to stand out.

Jeramey Gillilan is a contributor for Capital City Soccer and is absolutely mental for the sport. He’s always down to share a pint. Follow Jeramey on Twitter

One comment

  1. Two things:

    1) Austin already tried to have a professional soccer team, twice. Both times were limited to a PDL team called the Aztex. Both floundered due to lack of support and ownership desire to move into a bigger market in order to attain MLS franchise status. Thus, the first incarnation was moved to Orlando. If none have succeeded, how would another version succeed where those couldn’t?

    2) At what cost do we allow another franchise to come in to play? A franchise who is already embattled with community issues in their own community. Is it fair that the city would make concessions on taxes and roll out a $1 a year lease in exchange for a stadium? In a city mired with housing, systemic inequities and racial discrimination, that’s the last thing the city needs. Quite irresponsible to the constituents of Austin.


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