Soccer….Family Style


Be Classy, Soccer Fans
November 10, 2016, 4:35 pm
Filed under: FIFA, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , , , ,
I wrote this blog post back in June, and I kept finding reasons not to publish it. As you’ll read in this post, I find it exhausting to be the one-woman clearing house for everything that’s wrong with soccer supporter culture, particularly related to American Outlaws. But today I feel like it HAS to be said. It scares me to go into US vs Mexico on the heels of a political campaign that was so contenious regarding women and immigrants. The way women (and minorities and immigrants) are treated matters to me, particularly in the soccer community. I’m asking all of you to do better for our collective soccer family.

*****

Last night I got the worst news, but at least it came from a friend. Here’s what was posted to my Facebook Timeline:

20160616_134412

Vindication is nice, but at the price of even one more woman’s suffering, it’s also horrible. The flood of emotion I felt staring at this post is pretty indescribable. So sad to hear that another woman was hurt. So relieved AO was FINALLY talking about it. Vindicated that even one person remembered that I talked about this so long ago. Let’s rewind…

In 2013, I reported to AO National in writing that at an AO LA Night Before an AO member who I had photos of had touched my breasts inappropriately and other women at the party had negative experiences with men, and that as a chapter leader, I felt it was important that we deal with the rise of sexism within AO in the interest of protecting all our members. I was told that if anything had really happened, I should have called the police. Which is pretty much THE WORST way an organization could respond to such a report. AO confirmed this was their response in the article by Fusion published March 2015.

I shared the letter I wrote to AO with a Facebook group of all women, asking them to please share their stories. What was meant as fact finding was seen as an attack on AO. I never wanted to attack AO. I was a chapter leader who felt deeply connected to my #AOFamily, but I’m also a mother, and I didn’t want anyone hurting another woman at an AO party, and I thought it was an important discussion to have in 2013. AO was growing fast, and I thought thing could mushroom out of control if we didn’t confront it. My attempts to start that discussion were taken by many as treasonous, and ever since then, I have faced an almost constant barrage of harassment from AO members and sympathizers.

  • A man in chapter leadership of AO Knoxville created Twitter accounts to harass me and release personal information about me. I reported it to AO National and never heard that they did anything to even speak to him, let alone public or private discipline.
  • Supporters from KC seem to have a particular taste for harassing me, one of them even approached my son at a game to try to intimidate him. Again, no response from AO, but I was able to get support from stadium ops in KC so I could feel safe bringing my kids there.
  • I attended the AO party in Canada last Summer after ensuring it was legal to bring my kids to the venue. This was the first event with #AOWatch, and @USAGunnerWalsh tweeted an image of my child at the bar and suggested we call DHS about there being a baby in a bar (which was really a restaurant, and she was in no harm, but hey! Like that matters to a Twitter troll). At this point, I’d lost all faith in AO and their watch, but a friend reported the incident for me with my permission. Neither he nor I ever heard from AO National.

That’s far from all the harassment I faced, but it’s the high points. When I wrote my memoir of following US Soccer for two decades and published it in 2014 my anti-Tanya hate peaked with accusations that I was trying to get rich off soccer fans (writing!! The path to the millionaire life!….said no one ever). It was not that I was hoping to get rich. I wrote a book about my love of soccer and soccer supporters, and I genuinely thought it was so closely tied to AO’s mission, that chapters could use my book in their recruitment (some did and had great events). When I asked National to support the book and back me up, they responded that they get hundreds of requests per year and they can’t support everyone. Really? Hundreds of requests from long time chapter leaders who have written in support of you in crisis? Once I reported my negative experience, I was persona non grata with AO, making it painful for me to read the now hypocritical #AOFamily hashtag ever again. But never quite so much as when I clicked the link posted on my FB and read this:

Screenshot_20160616-145017

That title. I was so happy they were FINALLY standing up for someone. You see, I’ve become the clearinghouse for everything that is wrong with AO. YOU MAY HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED ONE NEGATIVE THING WITH AO, because in reality, there are so many amazing, wonderful people in AO. But bad things happen, even at AO events. Given the publicity of my story, I’m now the person that gets sent every wrong thing AO does.

A girl gets roofied at an AO event in Portland and National does nothing. Message Tanya.

AO events fall short of family friendly. Message Tanya.

AO screws up a tifo in Chicago? Message Tanya (OK, that one was funny…but I didn’t share it because I really want us all to get along).

You may never have a negative experience at AO, but I hear about everyone’s bad days. It’s toxic on top of toxic for me. So imagine my rage as I read “Standing Up…”

“The safety of all our family, particularly our female members is paramount. This is the way it has always been. This is the way it will continue to be.

Even one incident is too many. Which is why we chose to address this immediately. Every member deserves to feel safe at our events.”

The way it has always been? Um, no. At best, it was the way you wanted it, but it’s not the way it’s been.

Address this immediately? I’ll let a comment from AO’s own page cover this one.

20160616_134531

When something like this happens to a woman, we should not have to wait for AO to get their messaging right. We should be informed immediately and updated as the situation develops.

This is a good start. I’ll say what I wish AO had said. To this woman, and every woman (or man) who has had a bad experience at an AO event, I am with you. I know the pain and betrayal of bad things happening within your AOFamily. I know how hard it is to keep doing the things you love when it just brings you back to a hurt place. I love you, and I am here for you. I am so deeply sorry this happened to you, and I’ll continue to do everything I can to keep it from happening to anyone ever again.

My defense of AO is to say that I’m not going to take the “told you so” bait. One experience is too much. The fact that their post should have come ANY TIME over the past three and a half years should not detract from the fact that they are doing it now. AO National are the soccer nerds who suddenly found themselves at the cool kids’ table, and they didn’t know how to deal with this stuff, but they’re learning, and we should give them the support to create the best possible environment for all soccer supporters.

Full disclosure, I left American Outlaws after my experience at the Canada World Cup. I just couldn’t stand by any longer. I am now working on building Sammers SC. At some in the past three years, Korey Donahoo said something about how AO couldn’t be everything for everyone. We are a big enough soccer family that there should be multiple groups. I want to be a part of that diversity, with no hard feelings to AO. I was Sam’s Army, I was AO, and now I’m Sammers SC…it’s all supporting US Soccer, and that’s what’s important.

It is my hope that we can meet in the bar of our choice in an environment that’s a positive experience for all, then join forces in the stands to create the best possible environment for our teams.

***

 



MLS Fans, Come Have a Drink Tonight and Let’s Talk Soccer

PSLPortlandI live in Des Moines, where local soccer means Des Moines Menace….the 2014 Regular Season National Champion Des Moines Menace that is. I have soccer friends in Iowa who are really into MLS who drive to Kansas City or Chicago to watch games. The phrase “soccer friends in Iowa” is a new thing for me. It’s only in the last five or six years I’ve had a group that inspired me to do more with MLS than catch a game when it was convenient. Last year was the first year I knew what the Supporters Shield was (this year I’m wishing it was awarded in the PDL), and with the 2013 MLS All Star Game in Kansas City, it was the first year I got to watch friends travel to the ASG. Major League Soccer is slowly sucking me in. Exhibit A: I just arrived in Portland for my first MLS All Star Game.

My morning has already been pretty cool (despite waking up at 2:15 AM Portland time). Once I made my connection in Chicago I was on a plane with a DC United fan and several Chicago Fire supporters (and the general counsel for the Fire, who looked like a business traveler until he unbuttoned his dress shirt to reveal a retro Chicago Fire navy jersey). It cracked me up, thinking about soccer fans from all over the country converging on Portland, each of us hitting our on moment when it’s OK to take the professional clothes off and reveal our true soccer loving selves. Personally, I left the house in my Portland Timbers jersey, although I don’t think it was noted by any neighbors at 4:30 AM.

I’m stoked to unlock another level of MLS Soccer this week and check out the MLS ASG festivities, but I really hope I get to meet some MLS fans from around the US so I can hear your stories about what life is like in full time MLS supporting. I’m doing a book signing tonight at the Cheerful Bullpen at 6:30 PM PT. I’ll have my book, Passionate Soccer Love, for sale and I’ll sign them and even do a reading if asked (maybe from one of the MLS chapters), but really I hope you’ll come out and help me learn more about the world of MLS: your supporter clubs, your songs, your rivalries…and help me continue to get to know the club side of US Soccer.

Pre-MLS All Star Game Passionate Soccer Love Book Tour

Cheerful Bullpen Bar

8/5/14 (Tuesday) 6:30-8 pm (beer specials start at 8, so stick around after!)

1730 SW Taylor St, Portland, Oregon 97205

Link to the Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1461676767416811/



Last Minute Travel Tips for Brazil
I’m still working on my rewards and thank yous for all the love and support I got for my book on Kickstarter, but in short, I was amazed at the generosity people showed, not just funding my project, but making it happen on May 28th was especially wonderful. My book is now for sale in the real world, on Goodreads, Amazon, and a hundred other wonderful places. Please go ask for “Passionate Soccer Love” at your local bookstore, or at Beaverdale Books if you’re in central Iowa, or you can order paperback, hardcover, or e-book direct from the publisher at this link.
I wanted to post my travel group’s tips for Brazil to share as another thank you for all the book love. Thanks to Kaela of Local Kitchen for compiling most of this list.
COMMUNICATION
Download Viber and/or WhatsApp. If you rent a phone or get a new SIM card down there, make sure to announce yourself by text before you call someone: I, for one, don’t pick up unrecognized numbers, especially if doing so is going to cost me a fortune.
LANGUAGE
In my dealings with the locals over the past couple of months, I’ve found that very few people speak any English. If you haven’t already done so, pick up a Portuguese phrase book, or spend an hour or two on Babbel or Duolingo, just to get a few basics. If you have any kind of complicated situation – like say, you need to go from the airport to Pipa with a stop at a random shopping mall for FIFA tickets in between – I recommend that you type clear and simple directions into Google Translate, then print out the instructions in Portuguese and simply hand them over to your driver, hotel clerk, tour operator, etc.
HEALTH
For any prescription meds, it’s a good idea to snap a picture of your prescription details in case of lost/stolen bags (email to yourself to a web-based email). For OTC stuff, I recommend bringing [I, Tanya, second this recommendation…having pantomimed symptoms in several countries]:
-ibuprofen (not only for the standard reasons, but it can also stop a sunburn in its tracks)
-Benadryl and/or Claritin (if you are subject to seasonal allergies)
-band-aids & travel Neosporin (everything grows in the jungle: infection is a serious concern)
-moleskin or similar if you are prone to blisters (we’ll be doing a lot of walking)
-cough drops (singing, people. singing. I always forget them and wish that I hadn’t.)
-Immodium
-Tums
-Breathe Right strips (for snorers) + earplugs (for the rest of us)
-sunblock + bug spray (I’m bringing tiny bottles of each and will replenish down there)
-Yellow Fever vaccination card (you don’t need it, unle.ss things change…so bring it).
Don’t underestimate equatorial sun. Even the natives stay out of the sun mid-day. For Northern moles like ourselves, it’s going to take some adjustment. No heat stroke or 3rd-degree sunburns, please. [Also beware foreign drinking. Don’t assume drinks have the same alcohol content you’re used to, and know you’ll get drunk faster in the heat.]
PACKING
Two words: carry. on.
You don’t need half of the stuff you toss into a bag. You probably don’t need a third of it. Pack light: no one is going to want to wait for your giant suitcase to come through baggage claim, especially after we’ve been living out of a tiny 20-inch suitcase for a week or two. But seriously: do you actually trust the brand-spanking-new Natal airport not to lose your luggage? That the 4-times-normal flight volume in Brazil is not going to result in a high proportion of screw-ups? That you’ll ever see that luggage again once it disappears? Pack light. You’ll thank me later. Whatever you may wish you had brought can be bought there. Souvenirs! [I talked with my contact in Brazil tonight, you can pick up a duffel bag in Brazil for less than $50, so if you buy stuff down there, you can pick up an extra bag to bring it home.]
Essentials: other than game-day attire and the hot weather basics, I consider a long-sleeve shirt (lightweight UPF 30 is ideal) for sun + bug protection, a single pair of long pants (same reasons), and a shade/rain hat to be the only real “essentials.” It’s probably going to rain every day  –  for maybe an hour every afternoon – probably more in Manaus. So a light raincoat is a good idea. Comfortable shoes: you never remember how much walking, standing, jumping, running, and all around foot abuse happens on one of these trips until you’re in the middle of it, wishing you had brought your favorite sneakers. Bring them. And a pair of sandals/flip flops. And that’s it.
SAFETY
For those of you who didn’t see it on Facebook, I have a friend who is married to a Brazilian and they head back at least once a year to visit family. I asked her about the safety situation – this is what she had to say.
“Rio and Sao Paulo can be pretty dangerous. We stay on the beaten path and don’t wander too far off. I’ve been there 7 times and have never had any problems. I have seen people get jumped for their bikes in Belo Horizante. Normal precautions. Do not show your wealth. I have been told keep some “mugger’s” money in your pocket. So if you get mugged they don’t get mad. Do not carry a lot of cash. The ATMs close normally around 10 pm. for safety. There are some 24 hour ATMs but they come with a big charge. If you go to a bank do not take the candy because the candy wrappers tell people that you were just at the bank. Do not walk around by yourself late at night. During the day you should be ok and in the tourist areas you should be ok. It’s really only when you go away from them you have problems. Stay away from favelas (ghettos). Ignore people when they ask for change. Even the young kids – they can be setting you up. There will be a heavy police presence and the national army! I think just being a smart traveler is the most important thing.
The more serious crimes happen in the big cities. There have been hold ups at stop lights but this is not the norm. Again, don’t play the wealthy tourist!
The driving in Brazil is CRAZY! Between cars, overloaded trucks, motorcycles, bikes, horse and carts, and people walking on the same highways it can be an interesting excursion. It really is pretty funny! Brazilians are extremely aggressive drivers. They pass going up and down the sides of mountains crossing into the opposite lanes and will not move over to avoid a crash. You have to be a defensive but yet aggressive driver always looking for your escape path. But that being said it really is fun to drive in Brazil because of the mountains and the curves. That’s why they are always amongst the world leaders for formula 1 racing!
I have found that most Brazilians are extremely welcoming and gracious. They try to speak English. They like americans. I have not been to Natal, Recife, or Manaus. I’ve heard that Natal and Recife are beautiful.
Alex says be more concerned with the mosquitos since they carry dengue, malaria. Mosquito spray is more important (especially closer to the amazon) than a gun!”
So don’t be foolish. Leave the bling at home. Try not to carry too much cash at once, and carry it in separate bundles – in a pocket, in your wallet, tucked into your bag, etc. Don’t park a car with any visible stuff in it that might tempt a thief. Look grubby & poor: that shouldn’t be tough for us. 🙂
One thing I always do is photocopy my passport (+ visa page) and the front & back of credit cards, driver’s license, health insurance card, etc. Make two copies and stash them in two different spots that are not my wallet. My wallet was stolen in France ’98: trust me, the photocopying is a very minor pain in the ass compared to trying to cancel all of your credit cards on the fly without having any of the phone or account numbers. You could also simply snap pictures with your phone and email the files to a web-based email that you can access anywhere.
[Tanya: I also recommend taking photos of your World Cup tickets as soon as they are in your hands. Our tickets were stolen in ’98, and the first thing the police wanted to know was our section, row, and seat number.]
Emergency Numbers in Brazil
National Emergency Services Telephone
Medical Emergency (ambulância) Tel: 192
Fire Service (Corpo de Bombeiros) Tel: 193
Federal Police (Polícia Federal) Tel: 194
Website
Federal Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária Federal) Tel: 191
State Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária do Estado) Tel: 198
São Paulo Civil Police (Polícia Civil do Estado de São Paulo) Tel: 197
Website
São Paulo Military Police (Polícia Militar do Estado de São Paulo) Tel: 190
Website
Rio de Janeiro Civil Police (Polícia Civil do Estado de Rio de Janiero) Tel: 197
Website
Rio de Janeiro Military Police (Polícia Militar do Estado de Rio de Janiero) Tel: 190
Website
Sea Rescue (Salvamento Marítimo) Tel: (21) 2104 6119
email
Website

 

You can add your travel tips in the comments. Please go buy my book and enjoy reading it between matches, and thanks for all the support bringing it to fruition! Safe travels to everyone following their teams in Brazil this Summer, especially all you Yanks!



The Soccer Shrine
December 9, 2013, 7:01 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: ,

soccer roomI have wanted a soccer shrine forever. Our previous house didn’t have space for one, and our current house always had a higher priority projects going on. It’s a 125 year old Victorian, and there are at least a decade’s worth of projects to be done. But we finally got enough cleaned our of our master bedroom alcove to get our shrine started. You can read about the project, see more photos, and learn about the rest of the house over at my Historic Hatton House blog, but meanwhile, here’s a teaser photo for you. Feel free to post links to your soccer shrines in the comments.



New Zealand Outlaws! Get Your NZO Shirt Benefitting Little Feet Today!
October 23, 2013, 11:58 pm
Filed under: FIFA, Supporter Culture, US Soccer

New Zealand OutlawsYou want to support New Zealand as they do battle with US Soccer’s arch nemesis, Mexico, but you don’t have any New Zealand merch to wear game day? Here’s your chance to rep New Zealand All Whites AND support a great charity! $20 for the shirt, $5 to ship up to four shirts in the USA (shipping to New Zealand, we’ll have to look up), and all the profits will be donated to Little Feet, a soccer charity that helps children in need get soccer fields and gear. Orders will be accepted through 10/27 so we can ship in time for the first game. Click this link to order yours!



Want to Get Psyched Up for USMNT Coming to KC?
October 9, 2013, 9:08 am
Filed under: Supporter Culture, US Soccer

I love going to KC for games, you love going to KC for games, but we’re qualified, so maybe you’re feeling a little meh about the whole thing. Speaking personally, I had some ugly experiences at the hands of Cauldron members after my “Stereotype” post including continued comments that are too ugly to ever see the light of day on this blog. Things that should never be said from one supporter to another. Things that would make my list of supporter club turnoffs. But I digress….

This blog is a reminder to myself and all of you, how great Sporting Park can (and hopefully will) be. There will be North and South end supporters, and frankly, I love how this place sounds. The architecture is brilliant, the Members Bar is fantastic, and barbeque so serious they sing songs about it. I can’t wait to rally up with my friends from AO RVA, Detroit, Cali, and around the US, toast our boys, have some birthday cake, and rock the house just like this.



Beating the American Outlaws Stereotype
September 12, 2013, 12:11 pm
Filed under: Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , , , ,

girlCLAre there any real journalists left out there? I understand when MassiveFC writes a blog without getting comments, but when a “journalist” like Mark Zeigler starts tweeting things like “All those cheers you hear on TV are not spontaneous. A guy is on a mic with speakers telling people what to chant, and when. #contrived” and “@PCHartwell @AmericanOutlaws Guess it’s the sausage factory deal.” it makes me wonder if anyone knows how to actually write something above the blogosphere fray where people hear rumors and race for pitchforks and torches.

Mr. Zeigler, while it’s clear you have your bias against American Outlaws, have you done any work to see what’s actually going on out there? If you had, you might have seen this group of women at the AO Chapter Leaders meeting. That’s not all the women who are Outlaws. Those are the chapter leaders who were in Columbus. There are many righteous women in American Outlaws, and you insult us when you stereotype AO as a sausage fest.

Now back to your lackluster reporter skills. Did you do any research on the backstory of the capos, or were you inadvertently throwing fuel? Maybe catch up a little…first, Massive wrote about a supposed Seattle takeover, which was a piece with more emotion that whole truth, which prompted me to tell people to step up or go to their rooms. There’s certainly an intelligent discussion to be had about capo vs no capo, in fact, @ClevelandGooner and I already had it. When you talk about the frat boys being off key, you should know that you are insulting some of the finest men who support US Soccer, men that I have traveled around the world with, and men who deserve more credit than your playground bully sniping about being on key. Had you bothered to leave the press box and do your job, there was a story to write here. It goes like this: ***EDIT I AM SWITCHING TO THIRD PERSON BECAUSE IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE A FAKE ARTICLE….

song sheetAfter all the debate about capo vs no capo, the American Outlaws were ready to go with their first attempt at blending the noise level you can get from mic’d capos with the spontaneity of Columbus in section leadership. The plan was in place, capos stationed around the stadium. Song cards with truce plans to share the stage between AO and local supporters were distributed. A last minute security alert nixed the plans for capo stands, which was fine with AO Des Moines’ capo Tanya Keith. “I’m used to capoing from the section, so this is more comfortable for me.” But Keith would not be comfortable for long. The speaker system set up and tested pre game failed to convey the sound from the North End to the South end, leaving the South End capos to work out plan B on the fly. Keith’s children, ages six and ten, who often attend games dressed, got the crowd fired up by running up and down the South End with an American flag. When asked if this was her first cap, daughter “Wonder Woman” told the shocked fan “This is my 23rd cap, and my brother’s 14th. It’s my third #dosacero match. Dos a Cero is the nickname supporters have given the quadrennial 2-0 beat down of Mexico, and clearly, even the children understand the importance of the match.

The South End’s capos did their best, coordinating with the North End, who could often be heard clearly without speakers, when they could, allowing organic Columbus-style chants to fill the void. Once Keith finished her first half obligations, she sprinted to the North End at halftime to try to coordinate a plan for the failed speakers. She arrived just in time to see Eddie Johnson’s first goal hit the back of the net and explode the Nordedecke into a riot of sound, smoke, scarves, and red, white, and blue. Keith said “Once that happened, I was too superstitious to go back to the South End, and we were so loud, it was the best I could do to help out my family and friends back on the South side.” Anyone who has traveled to all the qualifying matches has to admit, Columbus lived up to the folklore, once again delivering an amazing fan experience, and a Dos a Cero mythology so strong, it even blocked a late game penalty kick attempt by new Seattle Sounder, Clint Dempsey. Keith summed it up, “I love traveling the US following and supporting this team. People see us capos as people who spend the game with our backs to the field, and they don’t get it. We watch the game reflected in the faces of our fellow supporters. They tell us when we need to turn around and watch the field. When I feel the energy coming out of the stands from a crowd like Columbus always brings, it’s the best natural high I know.”

Soccer fans will note, nothing is forever. Azteca was once the most fabled, unbeatable, home field advantage perhaps in all the world. We have seen the beautiful diversity of supporter clubs in America as we’ve traveled following World Cup Qualifying and Gold Cup this summer, from the consistent quality product of Seattle to the crab cakes and pit beef of Maryland. But as long as the Dos a Cero wall continues to stand at Crew Stadium, Americans know where their home field advantage is for US vs Mexico, right here in Columbus, Ohio.

***

Drops capo mic.




%d bloggers like this: