Local soccer fans cry ‘Foul!’
San Antonio’s dream of a Major League Soccer team could be shattered by a potential relocation to Austin.
In early October, Sports Illustrated broke the news that Anthony Precourt, owner of the Columbus Crew SC, announced intentions to move the team to Austin, Texas.
This potential move would have an obvious impact on San Antonio’s chances of getting an MLS expansion team. Many local soccer fans were not too happy about this move by MLS and Precourt.
Benji Mendoza, owner and operator of Soy San Antonio Futbol, has been a supporter of soccer for 15 years. Mendoza believes it is unfair to the city of San Antonio to lose out on a franchise to Austin.
“[The city] tried to attract a team to San Antonio,” Mendoza said. “Unfortunately, the way politics and favoritism is working right now with the commissioner of MLS and ownership [of Columbus], I think the true color of basic business is being shown.”
Mendoza said that San Antonio did their part like any other team bidding for an expansion franchise. Austin, on the other hand, has not done anything; add on that the MLS can pick and choose where to go next. The main focus now is the city’s current team, San Antonio FC.
During the United Soccer League playoffs, soccer fans at SAFC’s first playoff game were very vocal against Columbus moving to Austin.
Lee Ochoa, a business analyst and member of Mission City Firm, has been a supporter of the Scorpions and SAFC and said he doesn’t like what is going on in Columbus, and doesn’t want any soccer fans team being taken away.
“If it were to happen and they [Columbus] do move to Austin,” Ochoa said. “I am not going to support Austin MLS or Austin anything…I am San Antonio regardless.”
Ochoa said that sports these days is a business where owners can make the most money. He feels bad for the fans of any sport whose team is being relocated to make more money in another city.
Morgan Hughes, one of leaders of Save the Crew and longtime supporter of the team since their announcement in 1994, wasn’t surprised by the support from not only San Antonio soccer fans, but from soccer fans around the world that are against the move.
“The really cool thing about the global soccer community is that soccer seems to be the universal language for human beings,” Hughes said. “Outside of math, there seems to be this language that all humans speaks, and it’s passion for your local club.”
Hughes said that this move by the owner of Columbus struck a chord with soccer fans around the planet. The support for the Columbus Crew was heartwarming for Hughes and to Save the Crew, it has “strengthened” the cause to keep the Crew from leaving Columbus.
Hughes’ thoughts about San Antonio’s expansion bid getting ignored by the league is a “PR disaster.” He said that this won’t be last time you hear from San Antonio.
“There are a lot great people there,” Hughes said. “A lot of crazy soccer fans there, they have a great ownership group. They have invested the money in a facility. They are serious about this.”
Bexar county judge Nelson Wolff requested a criminal investigation against MLS over the Austin decision and the league has said that they are not interested in putting teams in both San Antonio and Austin.