by Dick Mac
Tifo, originally the Italian word for the phenomenon of supporting a sport team, is mostly used as a name for any choreography displayed by fans in the stands of an arena or stadium in connection with a sport event, mostly a football match.
Tifos are most commonly seen in important matches, local derbies and rivalries and although the tradition originated at club teams, some national teams also have fans that organize tifos on a regular basis. Tifos are primarily arranged by Ultras or a supporter club to show their love to the club, but are sometimes sponsored or arranged by the club itself.
See, Tifo at wikipedia.org.The Major League Soccer team I follow is Red Bull New York. It is owned by the hard drink company, Red Bull. They also own a football team and a hockey team in Salzburg, Austria (their home base).
Once known as the Metrostars, Red Bull New York has a group of hard core supporters that attend every home match, travel to away matches, and provide unimpeded vocal support during the entire 90+ minutes of play.
|The South Ward behind the goal and the smoke.|
Soccer teams throughout the world have supporters clubs. In other sports and other forms of entertainment, these groups are generally known as Fan Clubs. The fan club is sometimes owned by the team or promotional agency hired to maintain the business' presence in the media.
In soccer, supporters clubs are independent organizations. The fans themselves form these groups, write their rules, organize their events, and make decision based solely on what's best for the group itself, and by extension, the team.
Red Bull New York enjoys three supporters clubs:
Empire Supporters Club is the oldest group and original supporters group.
Garden State Supporters is a smaller group of fans and the name acknowledges the state of New Jersey, the place in which Red Bull New York plays all its home matches. (Yes, Red Bull New York plays all its home matches in New Jersey, so technically there is no New York team in MLS).
Viking Army is the newest supporters group, and has grown quickly. The name is based on the heritage of the current manager, Hans Backe, who hails from Sweden. My daughter and I are Vikings.All three supporters clubs sit in the three sections at one end of the stadium behind a goal. These three sections are collectively known as The South Ward. Nobody sits in the South Ward during a match. There is constant singing, chanting, jumping and swaying. If you want to sit to watch a match, then the South Ward is a very bad place for your seat.
So you are forewarned, never purchase a ticket in sections 101, 102, or 133, if you want to sit while you watch the match. First, nobody sits, second, nobody pays any attention to the row and seat number on their ticket, and third, you will make fast enemies if your method of fitting-in a place you do not understand is to contact security. The team should not have sold you a ticket in this section without first explaining all of this to you, which is the deal the supporters groups have with the box office. If you bought your ticket from a scalper (a tout, a ticket agency, or a thieving web site like StubHub), and they did not tell you the deal with seating in that section, then you should look-up the concept caveat emptor. Too often I hear the story of the lovely suburban couple (with or without their lovely brood of lovely children) arriving in the South Ward with their lovely tickets expecting to watch a lovely match from the lovely second row seats they bought for a lovely (ridiculous) sum of money. When they realize they are seated in the fourth circle of hell, they panic. What ensues should be hilarity, but is usually drama.
Don't be lovely. Don't purchase tickets in the South Ward unless you plan to stand the entire match.
Anyway . . . one of the activities of the supporters clubs is creating visual support for the club. This is often in the form of massive banners that are displayed when the teams march onto the field. The South Ward has done some impressive tifos and I will start to share some of them here.
Last night, we hosted our oldest rival, D.C. United. "D.C." is the abbreviation for District of Columbia, the city closest to the team's stadium. "United" is a moniker used in England when two (or more) teams merge together to form a new team. Nobody knows what was united to form D.C. United. So, we just refer to them as DC Scum; because we know the meaning of scum and we know our rival is scum.
Tifos sometimes take the form of taunting the opposition with chants and banners. And it is a mutual enterprise. Sometimes, a visiting supporters club manages to get a large banner into the stadium that derides the home team and/or its supporters. When this happens, hats are tipped. To pull-off a tifo in the opposition's house is impressive
Last night, the South Ward acknowledged the 17-season rivalry with D.C. Scum with a massive banner stating: "We are the D.C. Haters. Since 1996." along with a character representing Empire Supporters Club pissing on the D.C. Scum badge.
I love my team and it supporters: