The USMNT/Mexico Confederations Cup playoff game is at the Rose Bowl at the beginning of October, and despite the game taking place in the United States, the 92,000 seat stadium will be mostly green with the fans of El Tri rather than in red, white and blue with the American Outlaws.
One man, and the American Outlaws, are doing something about that. They are giving back to help some worthy people — military veterans.
James Bathgate, an American Outlaws member from the Inland Empire chapter, started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the Veteran Tickets Foundation in order to purchase tickets to the game for current military members and veterans and their family as well as families of troops who have been killed in action.
The fundraiser originally had a goal of $5,000 and now currently sits at over $23,000 after a week. The fundraiser has also had support from many within the soccer industry, as well as donations from Jozy Altidore, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Jurgen Klinsmann.
I talked with James on Monday about his GoFundMe fundraiser and what else may be on the horizon in the future.
32 Flags: What is your connection with American Outlaws (chapter and if you have a position within AO) and do you have a personal connection with the military?
James: I am a member of American Outlaws (Inland Empire Chapter 52). I don’t hold a position within AO, I’m just an active member who spends too much time talking to other members on Facebook. As far as military connections go there’s a few. My grandfather was in the 101st Airborne during World War 2. He jumped on D-Day and was at the Battle of the Bulge. My cousin lost her husband in the Marines. Finally, one of my best friends was a MP in the Navy for several years.
32 Flags: How did you come up with the idea for Tix4Troops?
James: There was a lot of discussion among American Outlaws online about the upcoming US vs Mexico game. We knew we were going to be outnumbered by Mexico fans so several people suggested buying extra tickets for friends to try to help. I suggested the idea of buying extra tickets for veterans instead. That idea grew into Tix4Troops.
32 Flags: How have the American Outlaws, as well as the soccer community, supported you in Tix4Troops?
James: The American Outlaws on both the chapter and national levels have supported us. We’ve also received support from several players (current and former) and other people involved in soccer.
32 Flags: Have you received support from those outside of the soccer community?
James: We’re seeing a lot of support from military veterans in the comments from donations. We’ve also received some help spreading the word about the campaign from people outside the soccer community. Two of my favorites so far are Drew Carey and Eric LeGrand. If you don’t know Eric’s inspirational story I suggest you look into it.
32 Flags: You originally had a goal of $5,000 which was passed after a couple days, now you have a goal of $15,000 and are getting close to meeting that. [NOTE: When the interview was conducted on Monday the 3rd, Tix4Troops had raised over $13,000 at that time. In just three days in between the interview and the article, they have raised an additional $10,000] Do you have another dollar figure goal in mind if you pass $15,000?
James: Really we’re going to continue raising funds until we have to stop to buy the tickets. $5,000 was my attainable goal, $15,000 is my more aggressive goal. I don’t think $50,000 is out of the question. If this campaign gets coverage from major media outlets it’s quite possible.
32 Flags: Do you have plans to do something similar in the future?
James: There’s already been lots of discussion among those of us who are helping working on this about what the future may hold. I’ve already had a lot of people asking about the possibility of a Christmas fundraiser, maybe something for Toys for Tots.
Being in a military family, I have a great appreciation for those who do things like this for our veterans as well as the families in addition to growing the game of soccer in this country. Why not do some good and invite as many people as you can, who may or not be into soccer, to catch an important game and to join in on the American patriotism of the American Outlaws as the US fans. It’s some great work from everyone involved and wish them all the best in raising as much money as possible.
Here is the current list of notable people who have supported Tix4Troops either via donating and/or spreading the word on social media.
Current USMNT Players and Managers
Former USMNT Players
Don Garber, MLS Commissioner
Greg Lalas, Editor-in-Chief MLSSoccer.com
Brian Bilello, President New England Revolution
Chris Canetti, President Houston Dynamo
Real Salt Lake, Official Twitter Account
Non Soccer Athletes
Eric LeGrand, Rutgers
KICKTV (1m+ Subscribers)
Thank you to James and the American Outlaws for talking to us about this great cause and wish you all the best.