ATLANTA - It's a tradition that's long been part of soccer culture, and now the large-scale art projects are becoming memorable moments at Atlanta United home matches. It's called a "tifo," a word that comes from Italian, and it refers to the giant banners made by Five Stripes supporters, unfurled in the crowd before a game.
"As long it's done by supporters, not for profit, and completely ... to the club and to your city, that's what tifos are about," said designer Vera Zeigler.
The displays are massive, and can go in a lot of different directions. One popular tifo was shaped like a tombstone and read "R.I.P BAD SPORTS TOWN," referring to the death of the notion that Atlanta's fans weren't up to par. One looked like an Atlanta United jersey with the name reading "Uncle Arthur," in honor of the club's owner, Arthur Blank.
FOX 5 was invited to see the Atlanta United supporters group Resurgence working on their tifo for Sunday's match against Seattle, which will be televised on FOX 5. The designers asked our camera crew to not show any video that would give away the design, which they want to be a surprise to everyone when they see it in person at Mercedes-Benz Stadium or on TV.
"We keep it really close and tight knit about the tifo," said Zeigler. "It's supposed to be a surprise unveiling, energize the players, energize the fans and city."
Work is underway at a warehouse space in Atlanta. Dozens of volunteers work on each piece, with supplies provided pay and paid for by donations. Transporting the banner from the warehouse to the match, and instructing fans on how to reveal it is another logistical challenge.
Sunday's tifo could be one of the most impressive yet: Resurgence claims on their Facebook page that plans have been months in the making. With a large TV audience following the World Cup final, it's a chance to impress a lot of people.
"People will be proud, " said Zeigler. "They'll be happy about this one. They'll be really proud we went this far with it."