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Tim Tebow Bought A Soccer Team And Fans Are Pissed

Tim Tebow bought a soccer team in Jacksonville, Florida. Soccer fans in Jacksonville are not happy about it.

Tebow, a former college football star and subpar NFL quarterback, is part of an ownership group that acquired rights to a USL Championship team in Jacksonville, the league announced Tuesday. The club is aiming to begin play in 2025 in the second division of U.S. soccer and will also include a USL Super League (women’s) team.

The USL club, currently going by the moniker USLJAX until a name is determined, has partnered with Florida Elite Soccer Academy, one of the largest youth soccer organizations in the country that already has USL League Two (semi-pro) and USL W League (pre-professional) teams. USLJAX has plans to build a 15,000-seat stadium in Northeast Florida (but likely not Jacksonville). 

Tebow bought the club along with some other wealthy folks you probably have never heard of: Ricky Caplin, Steve Livingstone and Tony Allegretti. 

“This is a fantastic and exciting development for our community here on the First Coast,” Tebow said, introducing me to the term First Coast for the first time. “I’m thrilled to be part of the new ownership group that seeks to bring some incredible pro teams and world-class facilities to our area that will be accessible to the whole community. I’d like to thank Ricky, Steve and Tony for presenting this opportunity, which I look forward to being directly involved in, and with my Foundation.” 

Tebow came to prominence as quarterback for the Florida Gators, winning the Heisman Trophy and two national titles from 2006-09. His professional NFL career was pretty bad, his lone highlight being a lucky playoff win in 2011. Despite this, he was supremely popular among Christians because he loved to talk about his religion; many say the Jets signed him only to sell jerseys. After failing to make it as an NFL quarterback, he tried to become a baseball player and failed at that, too. Now he mostly spends his time as a TV commentator for college football, where he usually talks about how players just need to try harder to succeed. 

Tebow is a divisive figure in American sports these days for reasons we won’t get into here because they (mostly) aren’t why people are mad at him and USLJAX. 

Tim Tebow Soccer Team Hate Explained

After announcing the new USL club, the USL and USLJAX Twitter accounts were flooded with angry fans explaining they already have a team they support. 

Jacksonville Armada FC was founded in 2013 and has played in the NASL and NPSL. The club, owned by promotion/relegation advocate Robert Palmer, is currently competing as a U-23 squad in the semi-pro NPSL and could be making a move to MLS Next Pro in the future. 

Here’s a sampling of the responses fans made to the USLJAX announcement. 

To be fair, there were some positive responses too, though most of those were from Tebow fans who know nothing about soccer. 

This whole episode is an example of one of the worst aspects of the professional soccer pyramid in the U.S. MLS is doing its own thing with a closed system at the top while USL attempts to gain a monopoly on the lower divisions, often stepping on the toes of existing clubs in leagues like NPSL and NISA. Meanwhile, the U.S. Soccer Federation stands back and watches silently as fans beg for promotion/relegation to sort it all out. (Pro/rel is never going to happen and probably shouldn’t happen, but that’s for another story.)

None of this is ideal in a country where soccer is thriving where done correctly and struggling where done poorly. And by done poorly, we mean rich white dudes coming in thinking they can make an easy buck off soccer fans without actually understanding soccer culture, which rarely ends well. 

Let’s hope Tebow and Co. pay attention to fans and create a club worth celebrating and not one that folds in five years. 

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