Nearly 20 million Americans watched the 2010 FIFA World Cup on television, according to U.S. Soccer. Several fan groups have developed within recent years.
Easily recognized by their American flag bandanas and red membership shirts, the American Outlaws is a group of supporters for the U.S. men’s and women’s national soccer teams.
American Outlaws, one of the biggest soccer fan groups in the nation, has 175 official chapters and about 30,000 members.
Founded in 2007 by a group of fans in Lincoln, Nebraska, the organization states that their mission is to “unite and strengthen.”
Organizing a chapter is no easy task, though, as the national headquarters have strict guidelines when it comes to organizing an official chapter. Some of these guidelines include: a minimum of 25 members paying dues, a host bar where the group can consistently view matches and regularly informing the national organization of any new members.
Josh Brunner, president of the unofficial American Outlaws Manhattan chapter and graduate student in counseling and student development, said he is working hard to make things official.
With previous experience forming a chapter in his hometown of Auburn, Alabama, Brunner said he saw an opportunity to bring people in Manhattan together through the love of soccer.
“The American Outlaws is a group that is providing a way to grow the popularity of the game,” Brunner said. “Not just a group of people that get together to watch soccer. We are building a love for the game.”
Brunner said organizing the chapter was a great way for him to make friends and meet new people, especially since he is from out of state.
“Moving from Auburn to Manhattan, Kansas, a city I’ve never been to, it was crazy to see the big following of soccer that was already here,” Brunner said. “It’s kind of how I started making friends in Manhattan. It’s a way to use the sport of soccer to build relationships.”
Vice president of the unofficial Manhattan chapter, Tyler Goevert, 2014 K-State alum, said that the American Outlaws is a group that stresses acceptance and that anyone is invited to join.
“We are trying to make an accessible environment not just for people who like soccer, but even those who just love supporting their country,” Goevert said.
The Manhattan chapter’s next event will be Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Aggieville for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2018 World Cup qualifying match against St. Vincent and the Grenadines.