By Kevin Gilmore

Back in January, a soccer ball with a British accent began tweeting about being the biggest supporter of “proper football” at CSUMB under the handle @CSUMBfooty. The erudite ball called CSUMB men’s and women’s soccer “the best game in town” and bemoaned the lack of “proper soccer scarves” in the greater Monterey Bay area.

The sassy tweets continued for months with quips such as “It’s been spring break here at CSUMB, so Pitch is sunning himself, Post and Crossbar are playing Jenga, but Stands? He just sits there.” Footy’s following grew slowly but steadily. Until April 1, that is.

On that foolish holiday, Otter Athletics sent out a phony press release and staged a press conference announcing long-time CSUMB staff member Greg Pool was being indicted on 41 FIFA charges (FIFA is the international governing body for soccer) the most egregious of which was “gross anthropomorphism” as the result of impersonating a loquacious leather orb.

A companion press release gave subtle clues as to the true nature of the event.
Assistant Athletic Director Kirby Garry piled on, tweeting, “For us to do nothing would have risked the integrity of CSUMB and our soccer programs” and linking to the fictional press release. This tweet was picked up by Kevin DeShazo of Field House Media and former CNBC sports reporter Darren Rovell, who retweeted the story to their 1,400 and 197,000 followers, respectively. Later in the day, former U.S. national team soccer legend and ESPN analyst Julie Foudy (18,000 followers) asked on Twitter for any good April Fools jokes. Pool responded to Foudy with news of the prank. She replied, “Hysterical!”

The Otter Athletics crew took advantage of the buzz to make Footy’s wish for proper soccer scarves come true. They designed a scarf that serves as fundraiser, souvenir and season ticket to every home game. Ten days before the conference opener on Sept. 7, they had sold out of the first run, raising $1,725 that will go to scholarships for student-athletes.

Upon delivering one of the scarves to University Police Officer Joseph Prebula, Pool/Footy received yet another citation, this time for “excessive awesome.”

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@CSUMBFooty represents the kind of football fan one might encounter at a pub outside of London. Lively and clever, he’s also full of mischief.

When did you first learn you were anthropomorphic?

That’s a bit offensive, don’t you think? I mean, when did you first learn you were anthropological?

What prompted you to throw your anthropomorphism in FIFA’s face?

FIFA? They’re a nasty bit o’ work, those muppets. Me and my kind have been kicked around by those blokes for decades. I’m not losing stitches over it.

Many felt it was a pretty dicey proposition to take on FIFA the way you did. While Otter soccer got in hot water, you came out of it with your reputation still intact. How did you pull off that magic act?

Listen, it’s not like I made a shameful meal of it. We knew exactly what we were up to, and if it meant raising awareness of proper football in Monterey County, so be it. What more can you ask of a ball?

We now know that your courageous act of civil disobedience served to draw attention to the lack of a proper scarf in the Monterey Bay area. What was the genesis of your plan?

It’s bloody cold by the sea, mate! Have you been to those late games when the fog rolls in off the Pacific? But really, I’m trying to create a football culture here. Scarves are only the first step. Wait ‘til you hear us chant!