World Cup Turns Tallahassee Football Fans Into Futbol Fans

Jun 23, 2014

American Outlaws banging a drum and chanting during the game between the U.S. and Portugal.
Credit Nick Evans

Tallahassee may be known for football, but with the World Cup in full swing a different kind of football has come to town. Viewing parties across the city are helping people get a sense of team spirit and enjoy the games together.

At Parlay sports bar, the Tallahassee chapter of a group called American Outlaws is watching the United States play Portugal. American Outlaws is a nation-wide booster organization for the U.S.  Men’s and Women’s soccer teams, and they’ve packed the patio area to standing room only.  Chapter secretary Scott Chandler says it’s hard to explain the feeling of watching a game with others.

“I would try to describe it, but I would have to use words that I don’t know and would use wrong,” he says. “But it feels better than sitting on the couch and watching it at home for sure”

It’s a rowdy bunch with lots of jerseys, flags, and, of course, chanting of “I believe that we will win.”

Chandler says American Outlaws welcomes all comers, just so long as they’re cheering for the right team.

“We’ve got a little bit of everybody, I think mainly the demographic is 18 through 30, but we’ve got people from all walks of life in here,” says Chandler. “Just love to come out and watch the U.S.A. play, and have a good time supporting them.”

But sports bars aren’t the only place people are gathering to watch games. Fans can find a quieter atmosphere at the Globe, the building that houses Florida State University’s Center for Global Engagement, where every World Cup match is being shown live. Leigh Ann Osborne, the Assistant Director of Intercultural Programs, says the World Cup is a perfect fit for the Center’s mission of bringing an international experience to FSU students.

“We figured that it was an international event,” she says, “and what better type of event to show than soccer, which is really popular around the world and particularly with students here.”

Osborne says the Center also hosted screenings of the last World Cup in 2010, but attendance has jumped this time around and is bringing out true fans of the sport. Sudipta Karmakar, a graduate student at FSU, says he thinks the World Cup screenings are a “good initiative.”

“Maybe not all the students do have television at their home because they are students,” he says. “Those students get an opportunity to watch the games on big screens, and that’s a really good thing, I would say.”

Among those watching a match at the Globe for the first time is Alex Jeffrey, an incoming freshman at FSU. He says he enjoys the camaraderie of watching the game in a group.

“It’s not just about the sport, but it’s also about supporting your country and socializing,” Jeffrey says. “For high school football games and college football games, a lot of people don’t like football, but they go just for the atmosphere and the environment and the social event of it. Watching an American game, especially with other people, can be exactly like that too.”