MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis and Nashville’s soccer teams are poking fun at each other before Saturday’s big game, all on billboards in the rival city.
This is the Memphis 901 FC’s first season, and they’ve started off pretty strong, but now it’s the message they’re sending in Nashville that’s really turning people’s heads. Soccer fans say Memphis 901 FC is making their games worthwhile.
“It was like packed,” soccer fan Hani Nyabam said. “People everywhere chanting, singing, I mean, I was hoarse the next day. My voice was gone. It was awesome.”
That 901 energy is also transferring off the field and to the internet.
“Rivalries are kind of part of how sports teams form their identities, and having a common enemy to root against and have your team root against is really fun,” fan Joshua Fikkert said.
This week, the 901 FC brought it to a new level with a billboard. It has the Memphis 901 FC logo and the message “901 > 615″ next to it.
But here’s the kick, the billboard is in Nashville.
929 ESPN radio posted a photo of it on Twitter, and it’s received thousands of likes since.
“At first I thought it was a joke,” Nyabam said. “I saw it on Twitter, and I was like, that’s not possible because that’s really edgy. Then I saw the Nashville one today, and I’m like, ah so we’ve got a rivalry on our hands.”
Here in Memphis, Nashville SC put up their own billboard at Getwell and I-240. It reads “Visit Nashville Soccer Capital of Tennessee.”
Nyabam said he thinks Memphis 901 FC’s billboard gets the edge over the competition.
“I mean their billboard was like, eh that’s cool, and it’s not really the soccer capital,” he said.
But fans say at the end of the day, it’s not about who has the better billboard, rather having a team to root for.
“Just as long as there’s excitement, there’s passion, really as a fan you just want to make sure your team you support is going out and playing hard every time,” Nyabam said.
Memphis and Nashville play Saturday in Nashville, possibly adding fuel to this budding rivalry.