…or to paraphrase the terrace chant… Ooo are we?, Ooo are we?…
From an organizational sense, Chelsea In America (or CIA as we cheekily like to call ourselves) is an umbrella organization that brings together independent Chelsea FC supporters clubs from across the US to form one “blue brotherhood” of Chelsea supporters. However, as you will hopefully learn as you read down this page, CIA is so much more than a simple organizational entity. In 1886, 19 years before Chelsea was founded, the U.S. Supreme Court decreed that a private corporation is a person, and if there was ever an organization that lived and breathed as a person, it is CIA!
Those reading this page will likely span the spectrum from hard-core Chelsea supporter since birth to a casual soccer player or fan interested in finding a team to get behind and become a fan of, and if you fit into this latter category then congratulations, your search is over!
For those of you who are new to the culture of world soccer supporting, let’s start with the basic question “What is a supporters club?” In the UK and throughout the footballing world, supporters clubs are more than just a fan club, they are a formalized way to show your support and passion for your team. Anyone can buy a shirt or ball cap and say they are a fan; a supporter is there to carry the flame of support for their team, spread the word, and become part of the club. It is no accident that a supporter will say “We did well today…”, “We scored in the last minute of the game…” because supporters feel like they are part of the club, not just somebody watching from outside.
Our support doesn’t end with the final whistle either. We kick every ball, celebrate every goal, get down at every defeat just like we are out there on the pitch with them. It doesn’t matter if you are new to Chelsea or been involved for years, we hang our hats together, we share stories, songs, our history, and banter, because really the day is not complete unless you are able to “chat” about Chelsea to someone and share that excitement and passion.
All that is great, but to be a member of CIA is all that… but wait, there’s more! CIA at its core is about supporting Chelsea, but it is also about a virtual community. It’s about making friends, and taking part in events outside of Chelsea games. It’s about knowing you belong to a bunch of great people, many of whom you may not meet until a summer tour perhaps but feel like they are long lost friends, all of whom share the same passion and excitement for Chelsea.
So now we understand what a supporter, and indeed a Chelsea supporter is, how does a supporter find like-minded souls out there in what has until been recently somewhat of a soccer wilderness, at least where supporting European professional clubs is concerned? Well, that is where CIA comes in. Across the country we have what we call chapters, supporters who are in many cases geographically close enough to allow them to gather on a hopefully regular basis to watch a game and socialize. In areas like Southern California we may have several within one state, while in other areas of the country with a more sparse population density we may have a chapter covering several states (such as the Midwest).
We charge a nominal fee to run CIA, which pays our dues to Chelsea to assure our True Blue members (members that have paid for a Chelsea FC membership as well as their membership to CIA) have access to tickets and that all our members have their views and ideas voiced to the club to continue our growth in America and worldwide. It also supports our initiatives here in America, like our website, bulletin board, and other communication devises. With our dues we have been able to create and have banners representing our club and chapters hanging at Stamford Bridge at all times. We have opportunities open to only members at the Official Chelsea Megastore USA. We also record a weekly podcast, and an occasional newsletter. We create merchandise to make available to our members at the lowest prices possible centered on our crest and our chapters, and you also get a member packet that we hope you will see surpasses in value what the membership dues have cost. Of course on top of this there are trips to London for those so inclined to see the team, meet fellow supporters and have a true “supporters” experience on match day. We have not only attended first team matches but Youth Cup matches, “Legends” matches, the Women’s team, Youth Team and Reserve Squad matches. With our contacts if there is an event at the club, we can help you attend and have a great experience, from “Star on a Stool” events, Megastore Signings, Player of the Year Dinners, visit to the training ground at Cobham and other events, it all depends on when you go and what you might want to take advantage of.
And then there’s the summer tour… When the club are able to, as part of their pre-season training they come to the US to play one or more pre-season friendlies or exhibition games. When they do, we gather from all over the country to spend days together not just seeing the team play right here in America, but to meet those long distance friends and enjoying loads of fun events to bind us all even closer and make sure there are memories created for a lifetime.
But you know it all has to start with you. It is the combination of all our members that makes CIA so unique, it is their desire to reach out to each other in conversations on the board, jokes on Facebook, news and gossip on twitter, meeting up across the country on match days to stand in pubs – sometimes at “silly thirty in the morning” – to sing, chat, laugh and vocally support our team right here in America. We do try and bring a little of the West London experience to every pub on match day, mixed with some American culture and tradition for the best of both worlds. Friendships are made, and the more you get involved the more fun you will have. We can’t force you to “join in” but we can promise that if you do, you take the chance of finding many friends, a new love of and insight into the game and it’s culture, and a passion for Chelsea you never dreamed possible. Whether your favorite thing is our history, stories from supporters from back in the day, stats and game analysis, or the never ending transfer window, there are others that you can share that interest with. If you play, coach, ref or have kids that play there are supporters to share that with.
It is up to you to take the first step, but we are waiting with open arms, and a blue and white scarf to wrap around your neck. As another of our songs says, “Come along, come along, come along and sing our song…” so please do take that next step, come and check us out, and hopefully become a life-ling supporter of the best club in the world.
Chelsea in America is a registered 501(c)(7) not-for-profit social organization. Although your membership fees are not tax-deductible, when we set up our fundraisers for charity (for instance, The Osgood Foundation or Past Players’ Trust), those contributions are tax-deductible.