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What are the Four Types Of American Soccer Fans?

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 29 : Fans of the United States cheer during a pre-World Cup warm-up match against Turkey at Lincoln Financial Field on May 29, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

I have been to the past two World Cups. I was there in South Korea for the most famous almost-Cinderella run by the hosts in 2002. I was in Germany for the infamous Zidane headbutt that lost France the title in 2006. And this year, my father deemed it much too dangerous to let me go to South Africa, tarnishing my perfect record as a football fan. So, I’m stuck in the States with a world of fans. And after much research I present to you, a field guide to the four types of American soccer fans:

1. The Diehard USA Fan

Typical. These are the guys that paint their faces, wear flags as capes and swear they bleed red, white, and blue. They have eagle tattoos and only watch the World Cup because it fills the time in between the NBA Finals and the World Series. Hockey is for Canadians. These guys embody the reason why soccer will never take off here: American supremacy. America does it our way. We’re number one. Our way or the highway. What I mean by this is that these fans are normally guys that don’t know a thing about soccer except that they must yell loudly and spill beer when the Yanks net one because it proves that we’re the best country in the world no matter what anyone says! USA! USA! Ask them what ‘offside’ means and they won’t be able to tell you and frankly, they won’t care as long as America wins.

2. The Loud Rookie

Drawing most of his knowledge from quick Google and Wikipedia searches right before matches, the loud rookie likes to pass off as the knowledgeable ex-pat (see below) and often makes up for his lack of experience with angry shouts against the ref. Oftentimes, the loud rookie will memorize a handful of statistics about a team or a few significant names in order to strike up a conversation with a table of KEP’s (Knowledgeable Ex-Pat) in an attempt to blend in and perhaps impress a female fan. But really, the only thing they know is that Brazil is good, England is good, and African teams are cute underdogs. Avoid at all costs.

3. The Knowledgeable Ex-Pat

Foreigners from abroad also fall into this category. These are the people who know the most about the sport. They live and breathe soccer and more likely than not, follow football leagues during the 47 months the World Cup isn’t going on. They usually take a quiet seat in the corner of the bar and only raise their voices when they deem necessary. The KEP’s are rarely ever US fans and often hail from the likes of England, Spain, and other countries where football is prominent. KEP’s are also students who have taken a year off or have studied abroad and were drawn into their country’s subsequent footie culture. Respect the KEP’s. They’re there for the love of the game. Treat them as such.

4. The Female Fan

A rare breed in the States, there are two subcategories: the World Cup widow and the actual fan. World Cup Widows (WWC’s) are, in fact, the opposite of WAG’s. They are ‘widowed’ by their boyfriends, husbands, fiancés who sit glued to the TV absorbing match after match. Feeling neglected, WWCs will attempt to empathize and accompany their partners to a couple matches in the bar, but will inevitably find themselves bored—until they spot Torres’ golden hair, Lampard’s boyish grin or Ronaldo’s cliché physique. To fill the gaping hole of male abandonment, these women will watch matches solely for the purpose of ogling men. Can you blame them? Footballers are the epitome of male athleticism.

Conversely, there are the actual female fans who were probably raised by football-loving parents or played soccer in high school and wished to continue their love of the sport after the collapse of the WUSA in 2003. Often a quieter breed, their knowledge of the World Cup lies between the loud rookie and the KEP—a happy, pleasant medium. Never accuse these women of being WWC’s or WAGs.

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  1. You should be ashamed...

    June 28, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Not only was the article stupid and insulting, you even plagiarized some of it. In the popular “Stuff White People Like” blog, a June 1 entry talking about ignorant fans states:
    “Not only will they have plenty of disposable income, they will follow the following betting patterns:
    * England is good
    * Brazil is good
    * Italy is good
    * Teams from Africa are cute underdogs and thus always worth a bet.”

    9 days later, you published this line, practically ripped right from it:

    “But really, the only thing they know is that Brazil is good, England is good, and African teams are cute underdogs.”

    There is absolutely no way this is a coincidence. You are a plagiarist and ought to be ashamed for trying to publish this as original work.

  2. BobbyB

    June 12, 2010 at 1:14 am

    So, your abbreviation for World Cup Widows is “WWC”? Wouldn’t that make it World Widows Cup? Or maybe it’s World Widow Cups? How about Widows World Cup? (say that 10 times fast…you’ll sound like Porky Pig!)

  3. Jason Gatties

    June 11, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Wow, the quality of posts here lately have been very, very poor. Gaffer has built up an impressive empire of quality soccer blogs. Why is he allowing this crap? I mean come on, he has to know its crap, right?

    I’m an AMERICAN who was BORN HERE who has followed the sport at some level MY ENTIRE LIFE & guess what?, I’M NOT ALONE.

  4. paul

    June 11, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I agree. what about a person who does all the above then plays weekly year-round. i have definitely been guilty of being elitist in my day, so having humbling experiences are good for me. this article is dumb. fuck england.

  5. Not a fan...apparently

    June 11, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Knowledgable American citizen….where does that come into play? Someone who follows soccer, lives and breathes soccer, reads 2-3 hours of soccer news everyday. I am not an ex-pat…nor a die-hard…nor a female…nor a loud rookie. Maybe you need to get out of your bubble and meet some people who actually go to soccer games or watch soccer games. Not sure where this article is coming from at all.

  6. Steve

    June 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Whoever the writer is, she must have an actual knowledge of this sport unlike you the neanderthals who must frequent this site. This article is obviously too Avant Garde and original for your tastes.

    • short passes

      June 11, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      please pass me what ever you’re smoking!! I come to these sites to read informed opinions on soccer topics, even though I may sometimes totally disagree with those opinions. However, I don’t come to read examples of college freshmen compositions — cute or not. Please MLST — stick to your business and let the rookie writers practice elsewhere.

  7. CoconutMonkey

    June 10, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    5. American, but supports Mexico.

    • Up the Chels!! In Chicago

      June 10, 2010 at 8:48 pm

      6. American, but thinks it’s cool to wear Brazil gear.

  8. Lars Lowther

    June 10, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I thought it was a funny, tongue-in-cheek piece. I don’t think people understood that it was a joke…

    • Up the Chels!! In Chicago

      June 10, 2010 at 8:45 pm

      I don’t think people were expecting an article that is better suited for The Onion.

  9. short passes

    June 10, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    The only thing offensive about this was the writing. If it was meant as satire, it flopped. If it was meant as sarcasm, it likewise flopped. If it was meant as a serious article — it flopped. Since when has this blog become a bloggers 101 elementary school. As irritating as a gnat — and just as substantial.

    • James

      June 10, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      I think you’re definitely right. These cliches need to die.

  10. sergio lima

    June 10, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Your right. I see myself in one of those groups.

  11. man99utd

    June 10, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I find it ironic that this article is on major league soccer talk as it is slagging off American supporters of the beautiful game. Aside from that it’s usually us English that get accused of being xenophobic (point 1 above).

    • James

      June 10, 2010 at 4:41 pm

      I thought the British understood satire. Although, I’d guess the average intelligence of a Man U fan is below the English national mean.

      Anyway, y’all should chill out. You might not have immediately gotten the joke, but it’s clearly a joke.

      • Up the Chels!! In Chicago

        June 10, 2010 at 6:32 pm

        After reading the post a few more times, It has to be a joke, has to be. If this is actually serious the author is absolutely f&&ked in the head……which was my first thought.

      • Rabble Rouser

        June 11, 2010 at 9:01 am

        If you don’t immediately get the joke, it’s usually not really that good of a joke.

  12. Up the Chels!! In Chicago

    June 10, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Wow, what did I just read and why did I read it? She’s basically saying there’s no passionate knowledgeable American born fans in this country…..In contrast you write that all foreigners and ex-pats are knowledgeable?? Eat a bag of dicks Esther. I’m a die hard USMNT fan and I don’t paint my face or wear my flag as a cape, I also love hockey(Blackhawks!!!!) but don’t really like basketball. I follow soccer 365 days a year. You are an idiot.

    • CoconutMonkey

      June 10, 2010 at 8:33 pm

      GO HAWKS!!!

  13. Charles

    June 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Tarnishing your perfect record ? I see you couldn’t bring yourself to see the 1990-1998 games. Thank God. Watching those games in France in person was butal enough without you.
    I used to read soccer blogs for a living. This is the dumbest one I have ever read.

    So where do I fit in? I think the US will do it better than all the other countries. I don’t watch pro basketball EVER. I am not female.
    I am a huge MLS fan with season tickets….and when I go to the Sounders game tonight there will 36,000 there, most of which are just like me.

  14. EPJr

    June 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    real fans (short for fanatics) rarely keep their “sport” in the proper prespective – why should they when the culture don’t.

  15. Skulldb

    June 10, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Let me first say, that people are entirely too opinionated when it comes to their views. I found nothing wrong with the article, and that is not to say I am an American who has no idea what soccer is. I am a fan; I love watching the game, and can appreciate individuals who know more than me. That being said, I can also appreciate what Esther had to say and poke some fun at those fans that are described above.

    Why is it that people feel personally attacked and victimized when someone is simply describing a certain atmosphere through their eyes? When I read the article, I laughed and was not so dramatic to say, “You failed in this aspect, and I’m justified because you didn’t mention ME.” To be honest, fans like AtlantaPompey make it difficult to actually enjoy soccer, or football, (not to hurt anyone else’s feelings.) Is it really important to your point to spit out facts and places just to explain to readers how much you actually know?

    People took this article way too far, and yet I’m not surprised. Next time, take a step back, laugh at the reality of certain characteristics of people and move on. Honestly, it is a SPORT…let us keep it in perspective children.

    • Jon

      June 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm

      I partially see your point; when I first saw the title of this post I thought it was going to be humorous. Unfortunately, as I read Song’s piece, I was immediately struck by the crass stereotyping, lack of witty humor, and problematic categorization. Did some people overreact in their comments? Perhaps, but that’s no reason to disparagingly refer to them as “children”.

      The “reality of certain characteristics of people” is that soccer fandom in the US is much more complex than Song pretends (as some of the people commenting have already suggested). A misguided humorous attempt to cluster fans into these four groups just simply offends the very people with whom this site is trying to reach.

    • suckerpunch

      June 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm

      The only problem I have with her “article” is the implication that ALL US soccer fans fall into one of her four groups, which, if she got out at all, she’d feel silly about.
      I know I know, she was trying to be funny. She wasn’t, thats her biggest fault.

    • Rabble Rouser

      June 11, 2010 at 8:59 am

      “people are entirely too opinionated when it comes to their views”

      How can people be “too opinionated” with what they believe? Just because they don’t agree with you doesn’t make them too opinionated. It just makes them smart when it comes to this particular item.

  16. Kevin

    June 10, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I think you were going for “funny” but just came across as “mean.” And there ARE fan types but you missed several of the key categories.

    Good idea for an article but poor execution. I really want to like this blog but the posts that I have read lately are making it difficult.

  17. Kevin McCauley

    June 10, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Oh, you’re a sexist. That’s cool.

  18. adrianamo819

    June 10, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I love how in a country where the women have consistently performed better than the men in soccer, we are still somehow considered “lesser” fans.

    I would gladly bet all of you suckers on a trivia night.

    There *are* women who watch the sport not because they watch women’s soccer (which, honestly, I’m not interested) or because of the “hot guys”. Why do guys find it impossible for us to be equal fans as you?

    Insulting, quite frankly.

  19. Robert

    June 10, 2010 at 10:16 am

    A guy talking about different USA fans who still listens to his daddy. Your daddy told you it was too dangerous for south africa and you listened to him? HOW OLD ARE YOU?! Pathetic

    • Dave

      June 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

      Her daddy probably PAID for the trips, that is why attendance was possible. Where is the “Daddy’s Girl” fan in your list above?

  20. Aaron S.

    June 10, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Such complete nonsense.

  21. andyg

    June 10, 2010 at 9:51 am

    This is possibly the worst article I have ever read about soccer.

    • Rabble Rouser

      June 10, 2010 at 10:17 am

      You have just identified the mission statement of this network of soccer sites.

  22. AdamEdg

    June 10, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I have to agree with those above. You are excluding the most important type of soccer fan in the US – the American fan. We love soccer in any form we can get it. We have a favorite team home and at at least one abroad. We watch Euro leagues on FSC and ESPN all winter and MLS, NASL, USL, PDL, NPSL, etc. all summer. We have heirarchies of support for teams and leagues. We hit NCAA and NAIA games in the fall. Our kids play in youth leagues. We coach/ref said leagues. We go to the bars (pubs are for Euros) with our players after the game. We buy jerseys for our local side, our MLS side, our Euro side, and above all, the USMNT.
    And we despise crummy writers that pidgeonhole us into some combination of your #1 & #2 categories.
    A die hard US, Menace, Fire, ManU, Inter, PSG, & Bayern fan. In that order. Drake & Grand View in the NCAA & NAIA, respectively And if YOU (Esther) have to Google any of that, then you might as well give up…

  23. Chris

    June 10, 2010 at 8:50 am

    You, my dear Esther, are a Eurosnob – the 6th type of American Soccer fan (the 5th was listed above by AtlantaPompey).

    You’re the one that goes to bars to watch the Yanks play and spends the entire time extolling upon how much better (insert well know Euro team here) would have executed a much more elaborate game plan. You support the Americans until they get knocked out of the tourney and then quickly switch to an Italy/England/Germany jersey. When the Colonists play well, you cheer loudly and feel like a proud papa watching his firstborn taking first steps, but when they stumble you’re the first off the bandwagon. You completely refuse to acknowledge that anyone who’s never been east of Boston can understand, let alone appreciate, footie and you’ll always be the first to walk away in a huff when an American makes a good point about why the 4-4-2 is the best formation for our roster.

    Basically, you’re the only person in the pub that won’t get a pint on my tab.

  24. AtlantaPompey

    June 10, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Wow, this article is pretty scathing, condescending, and frankly pathetic.

    I know what the offside rule is and can explain it as easily as I can explain the infield-fly rule.

    I don’t scan wikipedia before matches. I do follow other leagues, specifically the EPL, the other 47 months. I can name prominent players on just about Big Club, most of the managers, the name of the stadium, and even remember a few champions from the last few years.

    I was born and raised here in the US by parents who were born and raised here in the US.

    I’m not female.

    So where do I fit in to your categories? What’s so condescending about your article is that you are assuming that no American can possibly know or appreciate or understand the sport on the same level as someone with a different passport. While I don’t pretend to have the same passion as someone who was born in Portsmouth and has attended matches at Fratton Park all of their life, I do know a lot about and care a lot about the club. I can speak intelligently about the history, people, etc of the club.

    So, please tell me Esther, why did you write this article? What prompted your view of us?

  25. Robert

    June 10, 2010 at 8:19 am

    I think your article really sidelines the many US fans that do care about soccer and are rooting hard for the USMNT. They root for an EPL, La Liga, Serie A, and/or an MLS club and every four years buy the official US shirt, watch the matches in bars with friends, and hope for the best for their club. Are the majority of Americans in this category? No, but every years more and more join and combine an appreciation of the sport with a love of their country.

    Also, I find it best to include the category of fans listed above rather than exclude. These borderline fans are the type of people who can come to love the game for what it is.

    Unfortunately your post included neither of these points.

  26. Rabble Rouser

    June 10, 2010 at 8:12 am

    5. The “writer” who thinks they can be cute or clever by painting large groups of people with a broad brush in a negative fashion.

    • Nancy Balston

      June 10, 2010 at 10:28 am

      Learn how to write complete sentences before criticizing others.

      • sidereal

        June 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm

        You’re aware that ‘The Knowledgeable Ex-Pat’ is also not a complete sentence, right?

      • Rabble Rouser

        June 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm

        Your name says Balls.

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