Soccer….Family Style


My Timbers Army Antifascist Soccer Family
August 23, 2019, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Major League Soccer, Supporter Culture | Tags: , , , ,

I am a Jewish member of Timbers Army. I know I’m not alone, because I had fellow tribe members help me try to light Hanukkah candles in the wind and rain at our MLS Cup Final game in Atlanta. But the rise of antisemitism and antisemitic violence does weigh on me. As we prepare for our son’s bar mitzvah, I am more frequently confronted with the fact that my synagogue is always locked due to security concerns. It keeps me up at night…what will this world look like through the lens of synagogue life in a year?

When #AUnitedFront started earlier in August with the Timbers Army taking a stand against an MLS ban on the antifascist iron front symbol that was all too easily supported by the Timbers Front Office, I waited. As a Jew, I have so many friends that say, “don’t worry, we’ll protect you” when the “never again” topic comes up. But I don’t really believe them. When your life and the things you love are on the line, will you really stand up for my family against oppression?

What the Timbers Army and away Seattle Sounders supporters did tonight was shout a resounding “hell yes we will stand with you” in the quietest possible way. In one of the greatest rivalry games in soccer, our fans and their fans, who typically have no love lost between them, banded together and showed MLS Soccer that we will not back down when the rise of fascism is on the line.

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Image credit: @ambrown Original tweet: https://twitter.com/ambrown/status/1165077662856925184

For the first 33 minutes of the match, the stadium sounded more like a Des Moines Menace match than the biggest rivalry in MLS. No flags, no tifo, no signing. ESPN tried to create some sound by cranking up the field mics, but the result was an awkward uneasy quiet punctuated by players talking and the occasional halfhearted attempt to get a chant started from (I imagine) some white dudes beside themselves in the uncomfortable quiet. Possibly these two?

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The message was clear. Timbers Army is a huge part of what makes MLS great, and we have always been antifascist. We sing Bella Ciao because of its antifascist history. You can’t separate us from who we are.

To my TA family, I love you all. I know you risked getting banned from a game we all love to show support for the Iron Front, but for me, it was so much more than that. I will sleep better tonight knowing that I have an Army behind me, protecting my family from hate and oppression. Your magic is real and I’m so glad to be a part of it.

To Major League Soccer, Your profits are not more important than my family’s safety. You talk the big talk about wanting to be more family friendly…well here is your chance. Teach my children that you will stand up to the Faux News bullies that try to make Antifa any more than what we saw tonight. A group of glorious people bravely willing to stand up to hate and fascism.

In closing, here are a few tweets that captured the in stadium experience from awkward silence to the best Timbers Army has ever sounded.

All Quiet: https://twitter.com/jgrawrock/status/1165085528120684544

EBFG United: https://twitter.com/PaulAtkinsonPDX/status/1165084253312307201

The moment the protest ends: https://twitter.com/JBAustin9/status/1165099149236289536

Bella Ciao: https://twitter.com/jgrawrock/status/1165093759626797057

What Antifa actually looks like: https://twitter.com/PaulAtkinsonPDX/status/1165097139602509824

 

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#AUnitedFront against Fascism, the View From the Iowa Caucus
August 23, 2019, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Major League Soccer, Supporter Culture

In case you’re new to my blog: Yes, I am a member of the Timbers Army and I live in Des Moines, Iowa. How this came to be is explained here, but suffice it to say, I may be uniquely qualified to talk about the intersection of soccer and politics.

Here’s where the story starts for me: 20190823_194942.jpg

Truth be told, I got addicted to politics because of soccer. I was working to build a soccer specific stadium in Des Moines in 2002, and the project couldn’t move forward because we couldn’t get it approved by the Urbandale City Council. Yes I’m still mad and yes I have voted in every election since then no matter how small the office. Politics is your whole life, and we need to find a way to make it less toxic, but banning it isn’t the way.

Living in Iowa, I’ve seen it happen. We get together in a high school auditorium or gym every four years and have the Iowa Caucus. No hiding in a voting booth and secretly pulling a lever. You have to stand up in front of all your neighbors and publicly declare who you support. Then, there’s re-alignment…you need to convince your neighbors, through civil discourse if their candidate isn’t viable, they should come join your corner. So you better come prepared to state your case and be convincing in a way that doesn’t make the neighborhood awkward from that day forward.

But here’s the thing: we need to have a conversation about this banning political stuff. Because that’s a slippery slope. Is a rainbow flag political? Is a red hat political? What about a whole section wearing red hats? In the Timber’s front office double down statement they write “Major League Soccer believes the Iron Front symbol is inherently political because it has been co-opted by antifa.” Let’s pull that apart.

Antifa isn’t a thing. There’s nothing parked at Antifa.com. My husband wrote on Facebook “Antifa is a concept, a belief, a way of viewing the world and not an organization. Antifa is short for anti-fascist. There isn’t an antifa group, there are people who believe in the antifa way of viewing the world.” Since the 1930s the Iron Front has been a symbol of being antifascist, long before anyone coined the term “Antifa.”

800px-Three_Arrows_election_poster_of_the_Social_Democratic_Party_of_Germany,_1932_-_Gegen_Papen,_Hitler,_Thälmann

So to say that we can’t use this symbol because a group that doesn’t exist doesn’t hold water.

Plus, what is the equivalent symbol that you would ban on the other end of the political spectrum? The “Don’t Tread” snake? Nah….you know what symbol has been corrupted by that side? The American Flag. Are we going to ban the American flag for getting politicized? See how silly that sounds?

MLS: It’s time to get on the right side of history. re-write your policy to be human rights focused, not parroting some BS FoxNews soundbite.

We are the Timbers Army. We are relentlessly anti-fascist. You know how the song goes, you love it in your promos.

You can’t stop us, we are the Rose City.



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:

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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:

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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.

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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!




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