Soccer….Family Style

Your Stadium Policy Has Holes!
September 1, 2011, 12:19 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture, Uncategorized, US Soccer | Tags: , , ,

An email went out to the American Outlaws nation yesterday, telling us that US Soccer wants to promote a “classy reputation” by not having profanity in the Supporters Section. The “You Suck A**hole” chant at the US vs Mexico game in Philadelphia was cited as the reason for why we, the supporters, are being punished by losing our privilege of hanging banners for the game tomorrow.

I’m a mother and a supporter. I bring my children to games, including the game in Philadelphia. My views on language in the supporters section are well established and outlined here, but let me add that I was far more concerned that stadium security was not dealing with drunkenness that was escalating to violence within and between supporters sections than I was about explaining to my children that certain words are only appropriate in certain situations.

While cursing in the supporters section doesn’t bother me, I can understand why US Soccer would want to cut it off. There has been an increase in cursing, and while I’m not offended, I do miss the days when our (as supporters in general, American Outlaws, Sam’s Army, whoever you stand with) chants were stunning for their creativity than cursing. It strikes me that this is a parent-child relationship gone bad. US Soccer birthed a new movement of passionate supporters, American Outlaws, and their child is growing up faster than they perhaps expected, and they’re getting difficult to control. American Outlaws doesn’t want to be the kid with a bunch of rules anymore (children rarely respond well to punishment without clear warning), and (at least some of them) don’t take kindly to being told to limit their free speech rights. So here’s my attempt at mediation in this relationship:

To US Soccer,

As a USSF referee, we’re taught to be careful the promises we make in a game, and the punishment must fit the crime. By taking away the supporters right to hang banners, you’re punishing people who aren’t the problem. My children take extreme pride in carrying the American Outlaws Des Moines banner and stadium flag and seeing it in the stadium. That is a huge part of how they support the US. They were devastated when we couldn’t hang banners in Philly, and panicked that we might not be able to carry in the stadium flag. Don’t take away the creativity of your supporters as punishment for those who show no creativity and think supporting is as simple as chanting YSA and flipping off the other team.

By all means, let’s work together to get the cursing out of the section. A directive that anyone chanting YSA will be immediately ejected would be a fitting punishment. That may seem like a giant undertaking, but we all know you don’t have to caution the entire wall to respect 10 yards, just the first brick in it. Let’s get more educated stadium personnel, who feel empowered to remove the people who are causing problems so that the supporters section is still raucous and fun, without becoming dangerous or alienating the rest of your growing fan base.

PS I also reffed Latino league. Let’s not pretend that there’s far more bad language in English than Spanish. I think we’d all feel better if we did better than “those aren’t our fans”. Deal with all of it or none of it, please.

To the Supporters,

I’m with you. When I read that email yesterday, I was furious. But after sleeping on it, US Soccer has a point. Do we really need to curse in every chant? Would “Mental” be any less inspiring to the team if we went “freaking mental”? The American Outlaws mission statement is “To support the United States National Soccer Team through a unified and dedicated group of supporters.” So while US Soccer is not in charge of any of us, are we really supporting them if we’re specifically doing what they ask us to refrain from doing? We can do better. Don’t get angry, get creative. Show them that we are more than cursing. It would make my day if those going to the game tomorrow found some funny, even sarcastic, curse free replacement for YSA. I know there’s someone out there with something very funny and ironic to say. Let’s get that person some paint and bed sheets, ASAP.

Ultimately, we could fight and be pissed off, but what good will that do for us? You can have all the free speech you want, but in a private event, it won’t be you far. Ultimately, US Soccer can make all our lives pretty miserable, but it would be directly against our mission to drive them to it.

To everyone:

We’re all on the same side here. We want to grow US Soccer and having games with great atmosphere will make that happen. This is one of those aggravating “you’ll charm more bees with honey than vinegar. We can both do better in working together to create that atmosphere.

4 Comments so far
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I’m sorry, are all these games being held at disney land? We already live in a far too puritanical society, let’s not let them continue their takeover… Furthermore, are Mexican fans, for example, held to the same standard, or are they given a free pass? You would think there would be bigger issues to tackle rather than this one. And also, no, “freaking” mental (censored right there…) is not the same as just mental. It cuts out a great deal of emphasis and essentially neuters the statement.

Comment by Tobias

Thanks to Andy Przystanski of the Facebook Group “Don’t Tread on This – Supporters of United States Soccer” for this comment, which he has allowed me to repost here:

FIFA sends a suit to every international friendly, everywhere. Recently there’s been a push to eliminate chants deemed vulgar. These guys record us to keep track of what we’re chanting. Hell, the FIFA rep in Philly actually counted exactly how many times we chanted YSA. The USSF got fined $10k+ at that game alone.

The USSF wouldn’t want to get rid of or isolate its most passionate fans. We ARE the atmosphere at USMNT games, without us it would be quieter than a Revs game on a rainy day. The USSF has been in constant communication with AO leadership. They’ve been holding conference calls for weeks now.

Right now, from what I understand, this is the system FIFA’s imposed on us:

Strike 1: No banners
Strike 2: Moving the supporters section to the upper deck
Strike 3: No more supporters section

It’s a crappy situation, to say the least. But if you’re going to blame anyone, blame the bigwigs in Zurich.

Comment by soccerfamilystyle

Re: the allegation that FIFA was counting bad language and fining USSF appropriately — I would really, really like to hear that substantiated by someone from USSF or FIFA. Without that, I call B.S. — it just sounds too absurd for words, given the racist stuff around the world they *don’t* fine for.

Comment by Chris

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