It’s an image so ubiquitous outside the United States, it’s almost banal. A politician is photographed holding or wearing the scarf or shirt of the soccer they profess to support. For the former UK prime minister, Tony Blair it was Newcastle. For German chancellor Angela Merkel, it was FC Energie Cottbus.
In the USA of course, most politicians would be more amenable to revealing their favourite communist dictator than they would their allegiance to a European grass hockey team. Which is, to say, as far as my rudimentary research reveals, there is no clear record on which—if any—soccer clubs the current candidates for president support (the Donald, as in everything it seems, is the only exception).
Thus, this list may have involved a little creativity on the part of the author, and should therefore not be used as a meaningful source. Nevertheless, the show must go on. Here are the soccer clubs each presidential supports.
Hillary Clinton – Western New York Flash
The only solid link between leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and soccer of any stripe is the incredible US national team star and retiree Abby Wambach, who, along with Lena Dunham, threw her support behind the front-runner at an event this past January in New Hampshire. Though it would be both boring and obvious and to connect Clinton to the US National Women’s Team, Wambach’s former club, the Western New York Flash, would make a much better fit. They were founded in 2008 when Clinton first ran for the presidency, and they’re based in the state where she was a senator. Not much, admittedly, but that’s good enough for me!
Bernie Sanders – FC St Pauli
Bernie is a professed baseball fan, whose political career may have began back when the Brooklyn Dodgers decamped for sunny Los Angeles in 1957. Interestingly, it was when Sanders was mayor of Burlington, Vermont that he, along with his friend Huck Gutman, first thought of establishing a Green Bay Packers-esque community-owned baseball team, in which fans could own $100 shares. They also took inspiration from some of the publicly owned soccer teams in Europe. From the Guardian:
Though Sanders likely knows as much about soccer as I know about tiddlywinks, the obvious candidate for his support would probably be FC St. Pauli, the community-owned Hamburg soccer club with a young, activist leftwing fanbase who eschew money’s corporate influence in modern football. They are also a team that once looked like they would do great things in the Bundesliga, before they faded away into the German second division.
Donald Trump – San Lorenzo de Almagro
Much has been made of how TV reality star and personal brand mogul Donald Trump is not an establishment Republican candidate, or even, perhaps, a “real” Republican. For example, Trump, unlike every other Republican in the history of the Grand Old Party, not only knows about soccer, he recently went so far as to try and buy a South American club, San Lorenzo de Almagro, an Argentine club that won the coveted South American club championship the Copa Libertadores in 2014.
That team, however, is also supported by none other than Pope Francis, the same man who recently sub-sermoned Trump by saying that anyone who supports building walls between communities is “not Christian.” That spurred Trump to call Francis’ remarks “disgraceful.” Trump apparently can’t even do something as simple as support a football club without controversy.
John Kasich – Leicester City FC
Once the laughing stock of a nation, ignored and near the bottom of the pack, people wondered why they even bothered. Then, just as they were written off for good, they shocked everyone, including countless pundits and forecasters, by coming from behind to take a lead over the heavy favourites. In doing so, they also won the hearts and minds of millions.
This is either a John Kasich day dream or the recap of the 2015-16 Premier League season in which Leicester City FC, aka the Foxes, came back from near-relegation last season to sit atop the Premier League table with only two months to go in the season. Can Kasich wow everyone and emulate the club I just decided he supports?
Ted Cruz – Millwall FC
Cruz is a libertarian, social conservative junior senator from Texas who is somehow now the last great hope to save the Republican Party from Trump. Normally that would make him the very definition of a “red meat Republican,” but Ted has one, big problem: he’s the Zodiac Killer no one—save his anti-Trump base—likes him very much. At all.
So disliked is Ted Cruz that the New Republic recently thought it prudent to collect nearly every single bad thing said about him, not only by his political opponents, but his own peers in the GOP. Perhaps the best known of them comes from Lindsey Graham: “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” Despite all this, Cruz is running second in behind Trump in the delegate count.
All of this, ironically, made the choice of football club for Cruz easy: Millwall FC, whose famous chant is: “No one likes us, we don’t care.”