In the weeks following the world's most spectacular of sporting events, football’s World Cup, perhaps inevitably, American minds ponder recurring feelings about it's notable absentee, the United States.
“Soccer is a growing sport in America” it has always been said, yet recent numbers show youth participation rates are falling where those of more traditional American sports have begun to recover.
“Major League Soccer is the biggest and most successful league in the history of American soccer” we are informed and yet supporters in Columbus, Ohio still battle the relocation of their team across the country to Austin, Texas or potentially even Sacramento, California.
“There’s never been a better time to be a soccer fan in the USA” we’ve also been lectured. Yet DC United’s two historic supporter groups, Barra Brava and District Ultras, must protest their exclusion outside the team’s brand new stadium at its inaugural fixture.
“Soccer has arrived in America” we are told and yet our Men's National Team finishes below Panama and Honduras in World Cup Qualifying.
This is football in America.
It is a sad state of affairs when promotion to the nation’s top division based on competitive results is impossible and youth clubs must pursue legal action in pursuit of training compensation and solidarity pay. Yet, this is the American status quo.
Thus, the state of the American game underlines the impetus and desire to build something different, to try something new. In the face of a largely franchise-oriented sports system emphasizing cents over supporters and profit lines over pitch lines, it is no wonder therefore that myriad fans and groups have researched and pursued models of supporter ownership.
Despite systemic obstacles in US soccer’s divisional requirements precluding majority fan-ownership In the top sanctioned professional divisions, American soccer has experienced a remarkable embrace and progress of supporter ownership.
To be continued..... Look out for Part 2 of this mini-series coming soon.
Written by Clement Williams