Soccer Culture: Supporters Chants, Songs, and Anthems

A little over a year ago, Rancid drummer and huge Real Salt Lake supporter Brandon Steineckert forever changed the supporter culture at Real Salt Lake by introducing the world to RSL’s Believe chant, which the club has now adopted as its official anthem.  Soccer chants, songs, and anthems are an integral part of soccer culture around the world.  The songs and chants unify fans and spur the teams’ players on during matches.

This past week, Steineckert did it again when he introduced a new chant for the U.S. Men’s National Team (lovingly referred to in print as the USMNT by supporters and journalists).  I, personally, think that the chant is well done:

The USMNT finally has a unifying chant that is catchy, memorable, and unique. Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of negativity about the chant on the internet (because there’s no sure sign of success like internet haterade . . . well, unless you’re this).  Some complain that the chant sounds too much like “Believe.”  Some complain that it is too long and that casual fans or even the American Outlaws (one of the USMNT’s most ardent supporters groups) will never take the time to memorize it.  Some complain that the new chant is too “top down,” that soccer chants need to grow organically out of the experiences of the  fans at matches, the way that “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was adopted by Liverpool fans at Anfield in the early 1960s.  But this is the 21st Century.  We communicated via Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and many other social media networks.  If the best way to get “We Stand United” out to the people is via social media then so be it.

As for the complaints that the song is too long, those just don’t hold water.  “We Stand United” is just 53 words long and takes about 35 seconds to sing from beginning to end.  It’s a good length.  I think that “Believe,” by comparison, is too short.  The chant is only 28 words long and could really use a bridge.  That being said, it’s a great chant and a great starting point for fans in Salt Lake, who are still at the beginning of building a soccer culture in town.

One of my favorite anthems in world soccer is the Hino do Palmeiras, which is sung by supporters of Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, a club in São Paulo, Brazil.  The Hino do Palmeiras is 89 words long and when you get 20,000+ supporters singing it, it is quite a thing to behold.

The anthem, which has been sung since the 1950s (or earlier?), names Palmeiras fans as the “torcida que canta e vibra,” in English “the supporters who sing and shake,” and, boy, do they!  They sing with all their might!  They jump back and forth along the rows of the stadium!  Unity!  Which is what an anthem is supposed to foster.

“We Stand United” is a great place to start for USMNT supporters.  They already have various chants.  But one can only chant “I believe that we will win” for about 20 seconds before it gets old.  Besides, that chant is used all over the place and sometimes to greater effect.  “We Stand United” gives supporters of the USMNT something to call their own that they can take to Brazil, that they can use to spur the team on to victory, and that they can use for many years to come.  Who knows?  In 60 years USMNT supporters might sound as good as Palmeiras fans.