2012 - Portland
2013 - Kansas City
2014 - Philadelphia
2015 - Denver
2016 - Chicago
2017 - Atlanta
2018 - Vancouver
2019 - Dallas
2020 - Baltimore
“We needed an organization to resist the league's attempts to squelch supporter’s culture.” said Abram Goldman-Armstrong.
The creation of an organization for supporters rose from the need of protection of rights in the stadiums by supporters. “The MLS at the time didn't value supporters, and their ‘supporters summits’ were essentially them trying to figure out how to get more money out of their most dedicated fans.” He continued, “We made an announcement at the official Major League Soccer sponsored ‘supporters summit meeting’ in the Sounders stadium that we were going to talk about forming an independent supporters union/organization. I was inspired by the work done by the BAFF (Bündnis Aktiver Fußball-Fans) in Germany which I was exposed to in Hamburg in 2006 during the World Cup when I visited an exhibition at the Kunst Gallery concerning repression in the stadium.”
From there, members of Sons of Ben (Philadelphia Union), Union Ultras (Chivas USA), Timbers Army (Portland Timbers), San Jose, Gorilla FC (Seattle Sounders), Sounders FC Alliance Council (Seattle Sounders), Centennial Firm (Colorado Rapids), Southsiders (Vancouver), and Bravehearts (Victoria Highlanders - PDL) set to create a Council that would represent the interests of supporters across all leagues in North America. Between 2009 and 2011, there were multiple meetings of groups, discussing how they could best unite to advocate for supporters and grow, while legitimizing the new organization. In 2012, the Timbers Army wrote a letter to groups, inviting them to participate in the first official Annual Conference for the Independent Supporters Council.
The first members of the Independent Supporters Council were:
Midnight Riders (New England Revolution), Empire Supporters Club (New York Red Bull), Pid Army (Colorado Rapids), Timbers Army (Portland Timbers), The Casbah (San Jose Earthquakes), Rogue Cavaliers Brigade (Real Salt Lake), Hudson Street Hooligans (Columbus Crew), Screaming Eagles (DC United), Southsiders (Vancouver Whitecaps), Section 8 (Chicago Fire), Red Patch Boys (Toronto FC), Union Ultras (Chivas FC), The Cauldron (Sporting Kansas City), Angel City Brigade (LA Galaxy), Gorilla FC (Seattle Sounders), Texian Army (Houston Dynamo), and Bulldog Supporters Groups (Colorado Rapids).
With the purpose of a unifying voice and advocacy of supporter rights, the newly formed Independent Supporters Council started to grow. “After the initial meeting we put out a press release that was shared by all the member groups at the time which garnered a fair bit of attention.” said Fran Harrington, former President of Midnight Riders). From there, they personally reached out and recruited members across multiple leagues, growing organically and exponentially every year.
The work put in those early years set a foundation for success that has set the tone for how our organization works today. What started as a small group of supporter group leaders concerned about their rights in 2009, the Independent Supporters Council has now grown to over 100 members, representing over 25,000 supporters in MLS, NWSL, USL Championship, USL League 1, USL League 2, NPSL, and CPL. We actively work with different leagues and bring a strong voice to the table for supporters to be heard and valued. As of 2020, the Independent Supporters Council has filed our 501(c)(3) paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service and established itself as a prominent organization with international connections and looking for growth beyond the United States and Canada.
We are excited for the growth that has happened and commit to continuing to build on the legacy left for us while educating, supporting, advocating, collaborating, amplifying, sharing, and standing together. Thank you for being on this journey with us.
*Special thanks to Abram Goldman-Armstrong and Fran Harrington for sharing the story of the founding of the Independent Supporters Council.*