How LAFC’s District 9 Ultras are swinging the American fandom for fences

How LAFC’s District 9 Ultras are swinging the American fandom for fences

American ultras can always count on a lot of ridicule and hate comments on the Internet. They inspire in me the same sympathy I feel with the Dutch fanatics. Trying to build something beautiful in the supporter sector in a culture that is currently at odds with it. Admirable, even if it sometimes feels like trying to swim down a waterfall. Anyone who wants to try it with heart and soul out of love for the world, automatically gets my respect. Visiting ultras in the United States is definitely on my to-do list.

The team I want to talk about the most is LAFC’s District 9 Ultras. Although the club has only been around for a few years, the Ultras have already built a reputation as a well-known group in America. A request for reconciliation was answered positively and we are planning a meeting the evening before the city derby against the LA Galaxy. Three members and one involved since the group’s inception And In the LAFC fan world, I sit down at a restaurant in Little Tokyo to talk about their team, their club and the American fan experience.

Chivas America

At first glance, one can immediately notice that the clothes are in good condition today. Supporters shirts from LAFC, club, adidas and tattoos from Stone Island. The same feeling persists when we start talking about football. The four people in front of me are from Mexico. For many of them, that background is the reason they are here. The founders of District 9 Ultras were active in Chivas USA in the past.

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It is the sister club of Mexican top club Chivas Guadalajara. Although the club had some supporters, it was not an undeserved success. In 2014, after 10 years, the plug was pulled from the project. The club’s rights – that’s how it goes in America – were later picked up by LAFC. It took years for the club to really get off the ground. As a result, supporters had a unique opportunity to influence the identity of the newly formed club from the first moment.

Social club

This premise led to three key points that made the club what it is today. Before building the stadium, the Ultras traveled to Europe to see how other clubs were doing. Borussia Dortmund in particular was a great source of inspiration. Proponents made tough demands to build ‘their’ grandeur. As steep a structure as possible with standing areas. Due to rising metal prices, this ultimately cost the club millions, but the demand was negotiable for supporters. Grandstand design is exactly what ultras want now: built for craziness.

The second problem to deal with is the supporter style in the stands. LAFC’s supporters, like many American clubs, are made up of many Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants. At the same time, a trip to Europe also provided a lot of inspiration. It is a hybrid between Latin American barra bravas and European ultras. As a result, there are many Spanish-language songs with a somewhat European feel.

Perhaps the most important is the third point on which proponents have given so much energy. It was clear from the start that LAFC wanted to become a community club. Supporters must become the beating heart of the club. It also deliberately contrasts with the LA Galaxy, which focuses more on the upper echelons of society. At LAFC, under pressure from the ultras, they keep ticket prices as low as possible. All are welcome regardless of gender or appearance. For example, many women can be seen in LAFC’s frenetic grandstand.

Time to learn

All this effort paid off. In the club’s six years (minus the two Covid seasons), the District 9 Ultras, along with some other groups at the club, have built a reputation that surpasses that of any other American club. They put themselves on the map with some great tifos and pyro activities. They fight for better arrangements for supporters for all clubs.

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However, more importantly, videos of the good atmosphere on the ground. It’s not just a small group of ultras doing crazy things, but the whole narrow side gives off a lot of gas. It is somewhat reminiscent of Central and South America. The ultras themselves can put this victory into perspective more soberly. “Although we are now 100 years old, we started with the passion of five people“. Numbers aren’t the most important thing; the right attitude and identity do. Not all Americans understand this attitude, but the Ultras of District 9 can’t do much with it.”It’s time for them to learn. There are no two ways about it“.


But not everyone is a fan of ‘Small World’. The biggest criticism the Ultras face from the outside world and other American supporters is that it’s all a bit plastic. After all, the club has only been around for 6 years and from a sporting point of view, there are only glory days. One criticism is that Ultras can’t do a bit. Your club’s founding year is something that you, the supporters, have little influence on. It’s also understandable that the Ultras of District 9 have nothing to do with the LA Galaxy. The tremendous energy of the rabid (predominantly) Latino fans in LA seems to be fully activated now. There’s really no reason to think it’s going to slow down.

The group looks anything but plastic to me this evening. In front of me are four men with a love for LAFC and respect for the ultra world. No different than what I’ve experienced in countries across Europe. In the rest of the country, the way LAFC’s Ultras enjoy the game seems to be following suit. It could be the beginning of a turning point in the American soccer experience. An achievement that can only be regarded with respect. District 9 Ultra is on a mission to change the landscape of American fandom. Cheers!

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