What is a Tifo in Soccer?

What is a Tifo in Soccer

A tifo is a visual display that supports the home club’s soccer match in their stadium. The tifo can be numerous things, including sheets with artwork, colored paper, flags, songs fans sing, choreography and dancing with fans, and much more. The members participating in this ritual before a soccer game are known as Tifosi. You can find soccer leagues across the globe partake in this ritual, including Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, Scottish Football, Major League Soccer, and many more.


So, where does the name tifo come from exactly? Who created tifo football, and how does the process work by creating and getting the artwork to the venue? Why are tifos rare in the English Football league? What are some of the more memorable tifos in Major League Soccer?


Here is the complete breakdown of what a tifo culture is in soccer.


Where Does the Name “Tifo” Come from Initially?

Where Does the Name Tifo Come From Initially

Tifo and Tifosi are Italian words for the phrase “Those Infected with Tpyphus.” Essentially, the phrase represents individuals who are crazy with a frenzy for their team. Today, these individuals tend to be part of a supporters group in the stadium for a team.


Who Created Tifo Football?

Who Created Tifo Football

Tifo football tends to be a branch of ultras. Ultras are passionate soccer fans who bring flares into the stadium and sing and dance in unison during the 90 minutes of gameplay. However, there are mixed reports about when ultras and tifos first began in soccer matches, but many articles tend to give their appearance in Europe around the 1960s.


When Do You See Tifos Most Often?

Generally speaking, tifos are most common during derby matchups between squads. Since these games tend to have more passion among fans, creating big artwork usually has a deeper meaning, so more time and energy go into creating this type of art. The artwork will either make fun of their opponent, call out a championship victory, or do something else to mess with their opponent’s mind before a match.


How Does Tifo Work?

How Does Tifo Work

Tifo artwork takes weeks of planning from supporter groups and the team. Usually, the supporters of the club and the team will work together before the home game match to lay out everything in preparation for the game the next day. That includes leaving the colored paper on the seats to create an artwork display when everyone holds them up before a match. Check out this link from Soccer Stories that goes over in more detail the preparation fans and the team make to set up these artwork presentations.


Outside the visually colored pieces of paper, giant banners that rise in the air are already in place before the match starts. Usually, before kickoff, the stadium cables will usually raise the banner to display the artwork. However, since it is so big, the artwork was already inside the stadium before fans arrived.


Why is There No Tifo Artwork in English Football?

Why is There No Tifo Artwork in English Football

Finding a tifo at an English Premier League football game is rare, but it sometimes happens. However, unlike in La Liga or MLS, most EPL games you attend or watch won’t have this artwork before the match. Here are some of the common reasons why seeing them at games tends to be a rarity.


  • English fans take great pride in singing during a match, and some don’t see the need for additional spectacle. According to Reddit, some fans see them as cringy and embarrassing to take part in during a match.
  • The policing at stadiums tries and crack down on any behavior that can become hostile during a match. Removing the chance to bring Tifo’s into the stadium is one way to control fans who might take the message too far.
  • The stadium officials want to limit any political commentary during a match. The Middle East Monitor publication greatly broke down how people posted messages about the Qatar World Cup months before the game.


However, there have been instances where an EPL (English Premier League) team did have a tifo to start a game. For example, when Crystal Palace returned to the EPL in 2013, they had a Saw theme tifo in their supporters’ section. Other clubs, like Liverpool, will also have this display at some of their games in honor of something or to pay homage to their team’s history.


Interesting Major League Soccer Tifo’s

Interesting Major League Soccer Tifo's

Major League Soccer (MLS) has many clubs, and their supporter groups use the Tifo before matches. Some tifos represent rivalries, while others represent important games, like the MLS Cup. Here are some of the more memorable tifos in MLS History.


  • 11-5-2022: LAFC fans in the 3252 put up a gigantic tifo from Dragon Ball Z against the Philadelphia Union
  • 9-17-2022: NYCFC (New York City Football Club) had a Tifo out in the bleachers against their Debry match against the New York Red Bulls. The artwork caption was that they are the Kings of New York, “meaning New York is Blue and White,” not red.
  • 8-27-2022: The rivalry between Columbus Crew SC and FC Cincinnati had the famous “No Mercy in Cincy” tifo up in the supporters’ group section before the match began
  • 7-9-2022: The rivalry between Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers always has creative tifos before a match. At Lumen Field, home of the Seattle Sounders, a massive sign read “the greatest team you’ve ever seen” in support of Seattle.
  • 6-18-2022: To help celebrate Pride Day (June 28th), Columbus Crew had their sign showcasing love for everyone before the game
  • 3-5-2022: The first home soccer match of Charlotte FC had a gigantic queen raise in the stands symbolizing the start of the franchise for Charlotte.
  • During a game between New England Revolution and Orlando City in 2015, there was a massive Tifo at Gillette Stadium poking fun at the team’s close ties to Disney.
  • During the first Debry match between NYCFC and New York Red Bulls in 2015, the Red Bulls had their Tifo making fun of how the team was late to the party and that they did not have a stadium of their own.


Conclusion: What is a Tifo in Association Football / Soccer?

In summary, a tifo is a massive artwork displayed at soccer stadiums before a match. Teams and their supporters will work together to create the visual artwork, set up everything in the stands, and ensure it works when they display it. Then before kickoff, the artwork will be displayed in the stands, either cheering on their own home team or poking fun at the other team’s expense through their artwork. Along with the artwork, fans will sing, dance, wave flags, and more when during the tifo presentation.


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