By Ryan Bailey
With Major League Soccer arriving in Charlotte in 2022, many soccer fans are offering permanent tributes to their new team
CHARLOTTE — Riley McGree may have been born and raised on the other side of the planet, but there was writing on the wall that Charlotte FC’s second-ever signing would end up in North Carolina.
Well, to be more precise, the writing was on Riley’s left forearm.
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The Australian midfielder has the Latin phrase “Malim Esse Quam Videri” etched on his arm. It means “To be, rather than to be seen,” and it also happens to be the state motto for North Carolina. It’s a serendipitous tattoo for a player who will soon call Charlotte home.
Charlotte FC’s fanbase, meanwhile, has started to show their appreciation for the team with body art. The first-ever Charlotte FC tattoo belongs to Chico Sanchez, the local capitan of Pancho Villa’s Army, the Mexican National Team fan group based out of Salisbury, N.C.
Sanchez, who has lived in North Carolina for 32 years, had the Charlotte FC crest tattooed on the same day the club unveiled it to the world. Such is his dedication to the forthcoming Major League Soccer franchise that he went straight to Green Light Tattoo in Plaza Midwood to have the tattoo put on his calf before actually seeing the crest design.
“I told the folks at Tepper Sports and Entertainment that I was going to get the tattoo in advance,” says Sanchez. “I said this is the team I was going to support, so I kept my word and got the tattoo the moment the crest was revealed.”
Sanchez also has tattoos for three other sports teams that are close to his heart: Liga MX side Pumas UNAM, the Mexican National Team and the Dallas Cowboys. The Pancho Villa’s Army supporters’ group leader, however, isn’t done with celebrating Charlotte’s new team.
“I’m planning to get the new CLT FC logo tattooed as well. And I will add a star around it for every MLS Cup that the team wins.”
Chris Harmon, born and raised in Charlotte, has also shown his dedication to the city’s sports teams via his tattoos. Harmon is the Lake Norman chapter lead for the Roaring Riot and Mint City Collective—the respective supporters’ groups for the Panthers and Charlotte FC—and has offered real estate on his right arm to both kinds of football.
“I got the Panthers logo first, then added the Roaring Riot one,” says Harmon. “I then added the CLT FC logo and the Charlotte skyline,” he says.
“The idea for my right arm was a Charlotte theme,” adds Harmon. “I absolutely love the new CLT FC logo. The use of the airport tricode is instantly recognizable as Charlotte.”
Harmon added the tricode design to his Charlotte tableau in August, at Anything’s Possible in his hometown of Mooresville, N.C.
“At some point I would love to incorporate the Charlotte FC crown, too,” he says.
North Carolina native Matt Swift saw his love for soccer blossom when the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994. Although he has been an Arsenal fan since the mid-90s, Swift’s first soccer tattoo is dedicated to his hometown team.
“I’ve been waiting 25 years to get a team in Charlotte, but never thought it would actually happen,” says Swift, who serves as Director of Communications for the Mint City Collective. “I know it sounds cheesy, but having this team is a dream come true for me.”
Swift had his CLT FC tattooed at Made to Last in Uptown, less than a week after its July reveal. His plan to design a North Carolina-themed sleeve—including the Wright Brothers’ plane and the state bird, the cardinal—was altered by the arrival of MLS in Charlotte.
“When the team name and logos were announced, I had to make that a part of the theme, a part of me,” says the life-long soccer fan.
Next up, Swift is planning to pay tribute to the city’s four original wards by adding the Charlotte FC crown to his ink collection.