Soccer games as sovereignty movement

While Quebec fights for independence, the Vancouver Whitecaps battle for Cascadian pride on the pitch

Soccer games as sovereignty movement

Rick Bowmer/AP

The battle for Cascadian independence is largely a footnote in North American history books. It is highly unlikely the bioregion encompassing British Columbia, Washington and Oregon will achieve sovereignty. When it comes to professional soccer, however, national pride is at stake.

Every year, the Cascadia Cup is awarded to one of the three Major League Soccer teams within its borders—Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders—based on which team has the best head-to-head record in league play. “The soccer rivalry has really helped create this notion of the Pacific Northwest as a distinct region,” says Brandon Letsinger, a member of the Seattle chapter for CascadiaNow. Although the Whitecaps haven’t won the cup since 2008, the drought is of little concern to the fans while their team fights for the final MLS playoff spot. “I would proudly wear a Cascadian flag on my Whitecaps jersey, but I can’t see myself protesting for Cascadian independence,” says Brandon Walters, a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps supporters’ group, Southsiders. Regardless, the Southsiders proudly waved a massive Cascadian flag—blue, white and green with a Douglas Fir tree in the centre—over its entire section at a game earlier this year. “There are some people hoping at some point Cascadia actually does become its own entity, but I think that’s probably a pipe dream,” Walters says. “It’s more of a pride in soccer culture than anything for me.”

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