American Outlaws chapter hosts World Cup partiesDec 02, 2022 01:31PM ● By Greg James
By Greg James | [email protected]
Utahns have found a soft spot for the most popular game in the entire world. The World Cup begins the week before Thanksgiving and Salt Lake City ranks in the top 10 of soccer fans' best cities.
“Our chapter of the American Outlaws has been around since 2009,” Brighton High School graduate and AO chapter president Todd Nate said. “We have around 250 members here and are excited to cheer the US Men’s National Team on.”
The World Cup is the most prestigious soccer tournament in the world. It is held every four years. The tournament is held over a month-long celebration and includes 32 teams. France is the defending champion and Germany won in 2014.
“We did not make it last time (the U.S. team),” Nate said. “I think that makes this year more exciting.”
The AO chapter has scheduled watch parties for fans to enjoy the games. They are planned to be held at Beer Bar in Salt Lake City (161 E. 200 South). The organization is more than a set place to watch games. They encourage new friendships and donate time to local soccer leagues.
The chapter helps grow the game in the United States.
In other countries, World Cup games can close down a city.
“We went to watch a Brazilian World Cup game. We got there one hour before the match and the bar was sold out. You could not even get in. The excitement that other nationalities have for their teams is beginning to carry over,” Nate said.
In a study done by wallethub.com based on 52 key matrices, cities were ranked according to their acceptance of the game, Salt Lake is number nine. Some of the soccer excitement is attributed to the growth of the women's game, but Nate said this year's tournament will be fun to watch.
“I think this is a smaller market and like the Jazz, we only have a couple of major sports teams. I could not stand soccer, but as my kids started playing I fell in love with it. I am not sure how to explain how soccer is such a growing sport here in Utah,” Nate said.
The USMNT has a following here, but so do other teams.
“I cheer for the Mexican National team,” West Valley resident Ray Mondragon said. “My team is in limbo. They are not playing with their best players.”
Mexico left two of its best scorers off the roster because of injuries, Chicarito Hernández and Julián Araujo. They have advanced to the knockout round for seven straight tournaments, but have failed to win a game to advance to the quarterfinals.
“I don’t expect them to go far, but the entire tournament is full of great matches,” Mondragon said. “I can’t pick Argentina so I will pick Brazil.”
The United States is scheduled to play Wales on Nov. 21 and England Nov. 25. There will be four games broadcast on Thanksgiving Day. The finals will be played Dec. 18. All games will be played in Qatar. This is the first time the tournament has been held in the Middle East and Qatar is the smallest country to be a host.
The average ticket price for the finals is $1,600 a piece and the U.S. purchased the third most tickets to the tournament, behind Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Brazil is the only nation to appear in all 22 World Cup tournaments.
“I would pick Brazil, Germany is always tough. You could watch for England and I think the U.S. could be a sleeper,” Nate said. “We are a young squad and hope we get out our group.”