This week, World Soccer Talk spoke with Korey Donahoo, President of The American Outlaws, the US supporters group, on their plans to go to the World Cup in Brazil and cheer on the U.S. Men’s National Team with a group of 530 soccer-mad supporters. Incredibly, the American Outlaws have chartered three planes to take all of the fans to Brazil.
When are you leaving?
How did you organize three planes to leave from Houston?
“We have a travel company that does some of the logistics for us. We’ve done a bunch of packages in the past with them and we basically tell them what we want and they go get it, so they did the reserving of the charter planes.”
How quickly did the trip sell out?
“The first plane sold out in an hour. It sold out pretty much immediately. The second and third ones we opened up and they filled up pretty quick, within a week.”
Why did you decide to cap the trip at three planes?
“We were going to cap it at one because we didn’t think we would fill it! That filled up immediately and so we took stock and we said, ‘Well we have the option of doing more,’ so we said we’d do a second one and that filled up. And our travel guy said he put a third one on hold because he said we’d get there even if we didn’t think we would. So we went for the third and we said, ‘Well we’re already at 500 people and we still want the trip to be good, not just big, it needs to be manageable.’ So we thought 500 was still manageable and still be able to deliver and make it good for everyone on board.”
So the final number of people is 500?
“It’s about that yeah, 530.”
What is the final cost for the trip?
“It was $5400 each.”
How many official American Outlaws group leaders are going?
“Almost all of the board members (4 members) and about 6-7 that help out on the national level.”
When did you start planning this?
“Really after the last World Cup. We did a package for South Africa and shortly after we said, ‘We might as well start thinking about the next one.’ Probably October of 2010 was when we started talking about it.”
How would you say this trip is different from the 2010 South Africa trip?
“On the last trip, we didn’t have anything to do with flights. We just had one bus of people so all we had was hotels and buses. In Brazil, we’re having the charter planes, which is a huge difference. We always have the night before parties, those are the same. The main difference is just package-wise, the number of people. We also have a second flight to Manaus because you can’t really drive there.”
How prepared are you for traveling around Brazil?
“That’s one of the huge advantages of having chartered flights and not having to rely on commercial flights, which can be notoriously unreliable. Getting to Manaus is going to be really really hard for any US fan, so our charter flights are going to Manaus and back and we just thought we’d have a lot less moving parts if we had that. Not relying on Brazilian airlines for that sort of thing.
“As far as traveling around Brazil, we’re allotting a lot of extra time because we know delays happen often in every aspect whether it is traffic or flight delays. I’ve spoken with people who are in Brazil already or in the last few months and a lot of flights are delayed or domestic flights were 24 hours late. There are just a lot of logistics and we’re doing the best we can to account for that stuff and take it as it comes.”
How many people that went to South Africa with the Outlaws are also going to Brazil?
“Probably at least 20 of the 55.”
Do you have any say about the local chapters and their World Cup viewing parties?
“We’ve always given guidelines of what we think works best and we try to give chapters the ability to put their own stamp on it. It’s not easy to do all the time but you know that’s the point of having a chapter is you can do it to the extent the way you want it but we want the chapters to learn the best way to do it from other chapters and use some of our experience. We give them suggestions and let them go with it, as long as it doesn’t break our code of conduct.”
Why should a USMNT fan join the American Outlaws?
“There are a lot of reasons. We like showing that there are a lot of U.S. fans out there that are knowledgeable and die hard that are willing to travel and get together and talk about it. I love raising eyebrows of people who don’t know anything about soccer or the U.S. team in particular and showing that people like this exist in numbers all over the country. As far as becoming a member, there are a lot of benefits of having a family of people that know people around the country. Anytime you travel, there’s usually a bar in that city where you can watch the game — also pre-game events so when you fly into a city to watch the game, you can know where to go.
“There are also discounts. If you’re a member and go to one game, you make money on being a membership. You get discounts on a ton of things including flights and games. The number one reason would be being a part of a community that can tend to be disjointed and hard to find.”
To become a member of The American Outlaws, visit their website to see what membership discounts you receive as well as to select your T-shirt and desired chapter. You’ll receive an American flag bandana and the official American Outlaws membership shirt.