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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Forgetting the First Rule of Tifo.

When news broke Monday about the corporate sponsor-driven tifo effort in Seattle, it seemed the perfect opportunity to poke fun of Portland’s northerly neighbors.

But I couldn’t do it.

Offering up an opportunity to a corporate sponsor to create something that should be entirely supporter driven isn’t really a laughing matter. It’s an indication that Seattle’s front office is willfully ignorant of the culture that pays its bills.

But, Kristen, supporters are involved in the creation of this thing!

Sure. Sure they are.

I exchanged a few emails with the Alliance Council’s president, Stephanie Steiner, about how this happened. She, along with more than a few other Sounders supporters, is not happy.

According to Steiner, Delta set up a focus group to learn about the awareness of their brand support of Sounders FC, and how they could build it. Suggestions from the focus group included several community events, pop up clinics, and appearances by players, but what Delta and the Sounders front office have announced is “far beyond” what the group discussed.

“They FOed all over it,” Steiner says. “The whole idea that came from the focus group was a huge community event with art as the vehicle and Delta as ‘oh, by the way.’ Instead they spun it to huge art with Delta as the vehicle and the community became the ‘oh, by the way.’”

Emerald City Supporters tifo for a November 2013 playoff game welcomed the Timbers and Timbers Army to what was expected to be their “nightmare.” Photo: Brandon Farris

Corporate sponsored tifo isn’t new. People will come out of the woodwork to tell you all about big money pieces done in leagues around the world. And a quick Google search will bring up an EASports Clint Dempsey tifo done in Seattle in the not-too-distant past. But this is different.

Fans were asked what they wanted. They offered opinions and ideas. Those ideas were twisted into something that opens Pandora’s Box: an essential part of supporters culture being hijacked by a corporate sponsor and a team’s front office under the guise of being a fan-led effort.

Emerald City Supporter and Alliance Council member Jerry Neil was part of the focus group. “I told them what makes tifo, tifo. I also stressed that it wasn’t a good idea, but they went with it anyway,” Neil says. “They said if they were going to go with that idea they would inquire further, but they didn’t do that.”

Other supporters groups within MLS have been approached with ideas for corporate sponsored tifo and, as far as I can see, those approaches have been rebuked. While it may occasionally be offered up as a form of protest, the purpose and motivation for tifo should not be for commercial enterprise. I saw someone on Twitter refer to this as “advertifo.”

The spirit of tifo is this: art created by supporters, folks who volunteer their time and resources, in order to honor the players on the field. And that’s how it should stay.

 

Aside from all of this, Seattle’s front office has forgotten the First Rule of Tifo: don’t talk about it.

Especially if you’re turning it over to a corporate sponsor.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Magic in the air.

A Facebook post caught my eye Friday and before I knew it, I was digging through websites trying to find out what I could about an amateur team out of California that calls itself La Maquina.

La Maquina doesn’t have a website. I stumbled across a Facebook page early in my search, but didn’t make note of it and now can’t find it again. On the contacts page of the UPSL site, the president goes by a single name.

The editor for the site I’m going to write this piece for gave me an email address for the assistant coach, but several emails have gone unanswered.

The UPSL site has minimal information. And when I say minimal, what I mean to say is that there isn’t even a current schedule. By going to some of the individual team sites, I suppose someone more industrious than I could cobble together a schedule of sorts, but there’s really know way to know if it’s complete.

And about a minute and a half ago, word came down that one of the teams in the first round has been disqualified. They were due to play in less than 24 hours.

I love the Open Cup so much. I do not have the words to express how much I love it.

The Open Cup, for all of its unpredictability and last minute disqualifications and the sometimes non-existent streams of early round games, is made of magic.

Seventeen MLS teams will enter in the fourth round. And there’s the possibility that a team of landscapers, accountants and college kids will face off against Robbie Keane or Kaka. My first USOC match saw a team of amateurs go toe to toe with a professional side whose striker was the all-time leading scorer of the Scottish Premier League. But we don’t talk about that. At least not more than once a year.

USOC is impossible and improbable and sometimes, if you’re very lucky, you get to see the (former) captain of the USMNT take a referee’s notebook and tear it up, earning himself a red card and putting his team on its way to finishing with just seven players against their closest rival.

For MLS players, it’s maybe just another few games tacked onto an already packed schedules, but for these lower league and amateur teams, it’s the chance to chase a dream.

This is where my frustration reaches a boiling point. The Open Cup is the longest-running tournament in US soccer having been played for over a century (the first trophy was donated by distiller Thomas Dewar) but until the later rounds, there’s little promotion, and very little media coverage. It deserves better.

The guys who are taking off work, using vacation days to live out a dream deserve better.