Major League Soccer’s Vice-President of Fan Engagement, Amanda Vandervort, will speak as part of the “Identity and Culture of US Soccer Fans” panel this November 15/16 at Marlins Park in Miami. She will form part of an expert panel alongside senior representatives from Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing, Black Arrow FC and SBX.
For fans in Europe, soccer is a way of life. For those in South America it is a religion. In both cases soccer is deep rooted in popular culture, where the identity of a team and its fans is passed down from generation to generation. For soccer fans in the US, there is no such history to guide them yet and new teams mean new identities and new cultures to be created. Combining clever sports marketing and community initiatives, MLS Franchises, with the support of the league, are finding new and innovative ways to build an identity and create a culture for their fans that harnesses their passion and diversity.
As Vice President of Fan Engagement for the MLS, Amanda Vandervort is a perfect speaker for this session. Amanda has worked with the MLS for over eight years, fulfilling roles engaging with the league’s fans as she worked up through the social media team, becoming Vice President of Social Media and CRM before taking up her current role. With first hand experience of the booming fan culture within the top soccer league in the US, Amanda will provide insights into the clubs’ identities and cultures, and share her expertise on how to best engage with fans.
Joining Amanda on the panel is John Guppy, President and Founder of Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing. Guppy has over twenty-five years of experience in the US soccer market, working on both club-side and agency-side in the industry. Previous senior roles with Chicago Fire, the New York Metrostars (who have since become the New York Red Bulls) and Octagon, along with the experience gained in the last decade with Gilt Edge Soccer – where he has worked with brands such as Puma, the Premier League, Microsoft and Bimbo – makes John Guppy extremely insightful when discussing the topic of identity and fan culture in the US.
In addition to Amanda and John, Aaron Dolores will also be part of the panel discussion. Dolores is the Founder of Black Arrow FC – the first lifestyle brand focused on the intersection of soccer and black culture. Black Arrow FC has been at the heart of soccer in Atlanta, engaging new soccer fans and using soccer as a tool for connecting with the local community. The Atlanta FC franchise joined the MLS in 2017, and now averages 50,000 attendees every home game. The work Black Arrow FC is synonymous with the identity and soccer culture of Atlanta, which Aaron is at the very heart of.
Completing the panel is Francisco Terreros, Chief Marketing Officer, SBX, who has previously led the growth of hispanic fanbases for both Real Salt Lake and Columbus Crew. As the Director of Hispanic Marketing for the Crew, Terreros launched ‘Socio Crew’ — an official members-only club for hispanic soccer fans and amateur players. The program was so successful that the MLS adopted the same format league-wide and approached Terreros to consult on the project. ‘Socio MLS’. His knowledge of the hispanic fan market, and success in innovation will make Francisco a fantastic addition to the panel.
Speaking on the Identity and Culture of US Soccer Fans sessions, Soccerex’s Marketing Director, David Wright, said, “The diversity of soccer fan culture in the US is an extremely interesting and important topic for the market, with teams like Atlanta FC developing a huge, dedicated fanbase in such a short space of time, and Beckham’s new Miami franchise that has already gathered a large following two years before it will play in the MLS! It is fantastic to have Amanda present the league’s perspective in what I am sure will be a fascinating session.”
The “Identity and Culture of US Soccer Fans” session will be part of an industry leading conference programme at Soccerex USA that is being developed in conjunction with an advisory board containing representatives from Concacaf, MLS and US Soccer.
Soccerex USA is sponsored by the London Football Exchange, the world’s first fully integrated soccer club stock exchange and marketplace, and hosted in partnership with General American Capital Partners. The two day event will take place at Miami’s iconic Marlins Park and will comprise an exhibition showcasing the latest soccer business, performance and technology innovations.
Soccerex USA will include a programme of structured and informal networking events to connect delegates from across the USA and the rest of the world and it will feature a market leading conference agenda, with international experts tackling topics such as league expansion, women’s soccer, youth development, eSports, stadia technology, investment and new commercial opportunities.