Ideally, sports are meant to bring people together. And even when it comes to rival teams, the rivalry is supposed to stop on the field of play. In this instance, humanity is valued more than sport as Atlanta United did something nice for someone who was cheering against their team.
Last week, a leader from Orlando City SC’s Iron Lion Firm supporters group, Miguel Vazques, was killed in a car accident. The supporters group took to GoFundMe and set a $20,000 goal to raise money for funeral costs and for Vazques’ mother who Miguel had been a caretaker for.
Within a week, their $20k goal was met and is now raising as much as they can. In addition to fans from all over donating, Kay Rawlins, wife of OCSC owner Phil, raised nearly $5,000. And after seeing how close they were to their goal, Atlanta United donated the remaining $2,962 to get to $20k.
There’s no doubt that when the two teams face off in May, supporter groups of both teams will cheer for their team while booing the other. But that doesn’t affect the gratitude the Iron Lion Firm has for their opponent for donating and helping out. Because if the tables were turned, Orlando fans would do the same thing.
Soccer supporter culture and especially MLS supporter culture is like a family. While things may get tense on the pitch and there are rivalries, rival fan groups and teams have each others backs when a situation like this is presented. Everyone is united on doing the right thing for a sad but noble cause.