• Ian Pulczynski

The most passionate fan club you've never heard of - SPFC Australia

It started as a simple WhatsApp group containing five people before expanding to more than 250.


They all share their love and passion for one of Brazil's most notorious football clubs despite being over 13,000km away.

SPFC Australia is one of the biggest fan clubs in the country. Source: SPFC Australia Facebook

There are many established fan clubs across Australia, with fans who simultaneously support their team despite the various time zones across the country.


Just go to Cheers Bar Sydney on a Sunday morning, and you'll hear Liverpool fans blasting a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone.


Or to The Crafty Squire in Melbourne, where you'll meet several Chelsea fans supporting their side and sitting shoulder to shoulder despite not knowing each other.


Fan clubs are not only a place for supporters to meet up weekly to follow their respective teams; they bring communities together, and particularly those of a multicultural background.


This concept has been followed by Sao Paulo fans in Sydney, who hail from the football-mad country of Brazil.

 

In recent years, the number of Brazilians living in Australia has skyrocketed.


Among the total Brazilian-born people in Australia at the 2016 census, 24.1% arrived between 2007 and 2011, and 45.2% arrived between 2012 and 2016.

Australia is fast becoming the home of many Brazilians, who bring their culture and love of dance and football with them. Source: Business Insider

At the 2016 census, 27,630 Brazilian-born people lived in Australia, a 90.4% increase compared to the 2011 census, with a significant amount residing in Sydney.


Brazilians mainly live in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, such as Bondi, with 3.5% of the Bondi population being Brazilian-born.

With this migration pattern to Sydney, the Brazilians have established many cafes and shops to help them assimilate into the community and Australia.

They also bought their passion for football, or futebol, as they call it in Brazil.

This passion has been evident in establishing many Brazilian fan clubs across Australia, particularly Sydney.

One of those fan clubs is Sao Paulo FC Australia.

"It started in 2016," Danny, their director, said.

"We started with a small group, five to ten people. It wasn't even called SPFC Australia.


"It was just a platform to talk about the team, bullshit decisions and random stuff, and then it started growing."

Danny (far right) is the director of SPFC Australia, which started in 2016. Source: SPFC Australia Facebook
 

But who is Sao Paulo FC?


Founded in 1930, Sao Paulo is one of Brazil's most historic clubs, and they bolster an impressive trophy cabinet.


They have won the Brazilian Serie A six times, the Copa Libertadores three times, and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2005.


Sao Paulo has been the home of numerous past and present Brazilian internationals, including Kaká, Cafu, Denilson, Casemiro, Júlio Bapista, and Miranda.


Their current manager is club legend Rogério Ceni, famously known for being a world-renown free-kick specialist despite being a goalkeeper.


He played over 1150 professional matches for the Tricolours, scoring an astonishing 129 goals.

Sao Paulo FC won the 2005 FIFA Club World Cup. Source: Google
 

SPFC Australia's Sydney contingent meets up for most games at the Surry Hills Hotel, located in Sydney's CBD.


Surry Hills Hotel is also the official pub of Tottenham Hotspur's Sydney fan club.


There were some teething problems at the beginning for Danny, as they had to move to several different pubs.


"At first, I hosted a few games at my house," he said.


"But then, as we grew, I found a pub to watch games called Cheers Bar on George St, Sydney. But Cheers Bar is the same pub where our rival fans - Palmeiras - watch their games, so we had to move.


"We then found Surry Hills Hotel, which has become our meeting place and has remained since the end of 2017."


As the director of SPFC Australia, Danny wants to replicate the atmosphere from the 'Morumbi' stadium in Sydney.


"As the group became larger, a lot of people donated money to pay for the logo, for merchandise t-shirts, and also flags," he said.

SPFC Australia flags in Sydney. Source: SPFC Australia Facebook

"We don't have full attendances every game because people, of course, have to work. They usually call in sick when there's an important game on.


"We play the drums, but not for every game as our pub is also a hotel. But we always negotiate with the manager of the pub when we can play the drums. When it is packed, everyone is jumping, screaming, drinking beers.


"Everyone is invited to come and participate, as long as they are not wearing the jerseys of our rivals."

Danny also explained how he reached out to other Sao Paulo fans across Australia.


"We have an online group called Brazilians in Sydney, but it also had Brazilians living in Melbourne and Gold Coast too," he said.


"They don't have a big following like we do, so we help them out when we can. The biggest support in Australia apart from Sydney is the Gold Coast."


There are several regular events that SPFC Australia host to engage with their members.


"We do FIFA tournaments on the Playstation; we always do an anniversary party in the pub," Danny said.


"We also have pool competitions and quizzes. We do a lot of stuff outside of games."

SPFC Australia members singing during their 2020 annual BBQ. Source: SPFC Australia Facebook

The Brazilian Série A competition isn't the most followed or watched in Australia.


But it is fiercely competitive, and every football fan should observe the passion many Brazilians have to offer.


"It's very entertaining from start to finish," Danny said when discussing the Brazilian league.


"You have a lot of teams fighting for the title; it's not just one or two teams, it's more like five, six teams who compete for the title.


"This makes the league very exciting and one of the hardest leagues in the world because you have so much competition, and most teams are equal."


Last Sunday, Front Page Football was exclusively invited to attend SPFC Australia's annual BBQ.


This tradition has taken place for four consecutive years.


The event took place in Pirrama Park in Pyrmont, with churrasco, beers, and songs galore.

FPF was exclusively invited to the SPFC Australia annual BBQ this year. Source: SPFC Australia Facebook

Although our contributor who attended is not Brazilian-born or Portuguese-speaking, all the SPFC fans were welcoming and provided a fantastic atmosphere.


It's this atmosphere that Danny and the rest of the club's members want to continue to show off to the rest of the public.


With football from across the globe becoming more accessible within Australia, fan clubs such as SPFC Australia will only grow in number and help increase the interest in the sport down under.