In San Diego, is it ‘face’ time?
City’s hopeful MLS franchise leaves voting on nickname to fans — with funny results
Here’s a hypothetical conversation among soccer fans:
“Hey, do you guys know what time the game starts tonight?”
“7 o’clock. Who are they playing again?” “Footy McFooty Face.” It is hypothetical at the moment, but thousands of fans are hoping it will become a reality should San Diego win its bid to set up an expansion team in MLS.
The ownership group bidding for the team apparently didn’t learn from others’ mistakes and have decided to leave the responsibility of picking a name up to the masses.
With more than 2,000 votes as of Friday afternoon, San Diego Footy McFooty Face was light-years ahead of the other contenders, including the San Diego Bad Hombres.
There are 20 finalists total, which the San Diego group narrowed down from the 1,000 or so submitted online by fans (or so-called fans).
According to the group’s Facebook page, where fans began submitting their votes on Friday, the field will eventually be whittled down to 10 that will be sent to MLS for final approval.
If Footy McFooty Face doesn’t get final approval (and it likely won’t), fans might still have a chance to incorporate the silliness into the team later.
“Note — Soccer Club or Football Club can be added to names, and similarly, a nickname or mascot can be added to traditional names,” the San Diego group posted to Facebook. “You, the fans, will help us decide on that later!”
What could possibly go wrong? Lots, actually. Just ask Mountain Dew, the U.K.’s Natural Environment Research Council or the Philadelphia Zoo, all of which turned to the masses for help naming something and all of whom got burned.
When it asked the masses to name a new apple-flavored version of the sugary soda in 2014, Mountain Dew wound up with this doozy: “Hitler did nothing wrong.”
The Natural Environment Research Council asked the masses to vote to name a new $288 million research vessel last year and ended up with “Boaty McBoatface,” Footy McFooty Face’s inspiration.
And when the Philadelphia Zoo tried to crowdsource a name for its newest baby gorilla months later, they got “Harambaby,” in reference to Harambe, the gorilla that was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a child fell into its enclosure.
No surprise, none stuck.
Boaty McBoatface ended up the RRS Sir David Attenborough, named after a veteran BBC presenter.
“Hitler did nothing wrong” Dew ended up Electric Apple Dew.
And Harambaby is now named Amani, which means “peace” in Swahili.
Like its predecessors, Footy McFooty Face is, um, facing an uphill battle. Even if it wins and MLS somehow okays it (in of those names fans’ dreams), there’s no guarantee San Diego will even win its bid for the expansion team.
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, there are 11 other markets in the running for a team and MLS only has room for two more to join the league in 2020.
Sacramento, St. Louis, and Tampa, are the likely front-runners, the paper reports, because they are three of the bigger markets vying for a team.
San Diego does have one thing none of those cities has, however — Landon Donovan. The former U.S. national team standout is all-in when it comes to San Diego’s bid.
“Our goal really now is to energize the people that want this and to make sure they are involved and that they are pushing for it,” he told Sports Illustrated this week. “It’s very grass roots. It’s very organic.”
Donovan described his financial stake in the potential team as “very substantial” and he said he has plans to join the front office if San Diego wins the bid.
“I’ve been waiting for something to captivate me and to find something I’m really truly passionate about,” he said. “When the possibility first came about I was excited by it.”
As far as crowdsourcing the name, Donovan is all for it, despite Footy McFooty Face leading the vote.
“If the fans feel part of the process and more connected to what’s going on, then they’re going to own it,” Donovan said.
Landon Donovan is helping San Diego’s bid for an MLS team. Sacramento, St. Louis and Tampa are the front-runners.