Soccer, Fan Culture And Politics

tomma

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Is anyone of you interested in the intersections of soccer, fan culture and politics? Based on my previous soccer experiences, I would say that the stadium is to some extent a mirror of the society. The same social phenomena like , for example, various forms of discrimination that exist outside the stadium exist inside the stadium, too. For that reason, I even more appreciate that the following is so explicitly stated in the mission statement of the Third Rail: "We stand together as a testament to the melting pot culture of New York City, its many voices singing together. The Third Rail accepts all people regardless of race, age, gender, creed or sexual orientation." In my opinion, creating a place in the stadium where everyone feels welcomed and comfortable unfortunateley is quite challenging. Do you share my concerns? Or do you have completely different opinions on this issue? Do you have ideas how the mission statement could be "translated" into our actions and behaviour inside the stadium? Should it be one of our aims - of course, besides giving 120% in supporting our team - to express diversity and tolerance in the stadium, e.g. by showing flags, banners, etc?
 

Golazo

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From the few event's I've been to and from what I have seen, our fan base is much like the city we live in. Diverse. It has away's been a great atmosphere. I'm not sure I get your concern or what your post is even about. Our players come from all over the world, fan's come from all over the world....that's what makes nyc.....nyc!
 
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Gene

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From the few event's I've been to and from what I have seen, our fan base is much like the city we live in. Diverse. It has away's been a great atmosphere. I'm not sure I get your concern or what your post is even about. Our players come from all over the world, fan's come from all over the world....that's what makes nyc.....nyc!
Glad to see I'm not the only one wondering what this thread is all about.

I've been to countless events in my lifetime. I've seen MLB, NFL, WFL, NBA, ABA, NHL, WHA, NASL, MiLB, Boxing, NCAA (Football, soccer, basketball) and I even ran up to the Garden every now and then back in the 70's when they had a professional Roller Derby league.........never have I ever encountered racist, homophobic or neo-nazi misbehavior goings on in the stands.

Must be a European thing. :rolleyes:
 

tomma

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Thanks Golazo and Gene for your comments. It is true that I have made almost all my soccer experiences in Europe. In a lot of European stadiums, it is normal to see sexist behaviour or listen to homophobic and racist language during a game. In some stadiums, there is even a struggle between supporter groups due to their different political attitudes. As some of you might know, there are "far left", "far right", "unpolitical" supporter groups, some of them even share their passion for the same team. Some of them show banners that say "Welcome Refugees", "Stop Homophobia" and organize anti-racist soccer tournaments like, e.g., Celtic's Green Brigade. Others are infiltrated by racist parties and insult other supporters with homophobic and sexist language like, e.g., supporters of Lazio Rome (Irriducibili Lazio) quite frequently do.

I'm glad to hear that this seems to be different in the US or at least in NYC. How about the supporter clubs/ultras of the other MLS teams? Do any of them have a special, e.g. "political", profile? I found this list on the internet http://www.mlssoccer.com/fans/supporters . Some of them seem to have a more "punk" attitude like the LA Riot Squad, others call themself hooligans like the Hudson Street Hooligans. The Viking Army, another example, end their "About Us" with "Victory or Valhalla!". I'm just wondering wheter these self-descriptions or references are somehow reflected in the fan culture, their behaviour, banners, etc?
 
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KevinL

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I don't think Tomma is trolling. Seems to just be asking an honest question about sports culture in the US. I think, for Americans, politics in general is treated differently. I think most Americans (and this is a generalization and is obviously not true for all) do not like to discuss politics at all, but especially at sports games. Yes, once and awhile, you'll come across racist fans but they are always treated with disdain and like idiots. White power, nazi, and kkk folks are kept in line over by the simple fact that if any of them tries to march or demonstrate, there are like hundreds if not thousands of counter demonstrators. Not only that, but folks such as those in the KKK have a huge target on their heads for all kinds of backlash. IF you don't believe me, take the recent events in Ferguson. KKK people said they would target those who were protesting against police brutality and the killing of Michael Brown and hacker groups actually leaked their information online.

Also I should mention that this is NYC, one of the most diverse areas anywhere, at least as far as I know (I've lived just outside of NYC in Long Island, my whole life) and racism seems more like a closet thing. This is not to say that racism is not an issue in the United States (it is) but I think its not something people that are racist talk about in the open.

My point is basically that there is nothing to worry about. It's enough for the club or the club supporters to simply say that they are anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist or as many antis is needed to not infringe on anyone's rights. Racism is not grassroots organized, but the people who care about those types of things, are.
 

Golazo

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Tomma, I know what your talking about. It's not hard to go on youtube and look at the various degree's of racism at any match in various part's of the world. I think the incident that got the most cover just this year alone was someone throwing a banana at Dani Alves during a Barca game, which caused a trend to take over instagram and Facebook of people taking pictures of themselves eating a banana. I think it's a disgusting part of the sport and something that should have no place in it. I think more fan's also think it has no place in the game as well. FIFA also has ways to deal with and punish both the fan's and clubs when things like this happen. I don't see this as a problem in MLS. As other's and myself have said NYC is one of the most diverse places on this planet, it's what makes us unique and hopefully our club the best in the league.
 
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tomma

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Again thanks for your comments and explanations. In fact, the diversity of NYC is one of the things I appreciate most about the city. I also look forward to sharing my passion for soccer, the city and the NYCFC with other wonderful people in and ouside the stadium.
At the moment, I have three more questions. It would be nice if you can answer them or at least one or two. First, according to you, racism is not a problem inside the stadium. However, I am still wondering whether some people understand the stadium as a place where they can express anti-racist views or problematize current racist events and incidents? You mentioned the case of Dani Alves. After such an obviously racist incident during another soccer match, I can imagine that at least some supporters would like to show their solidarity with him by, e.g., having banners in the stadium at the next match saying "Love Football - Hate Racism" (like http://goo.gl/rLEjIj). What do you think? Or is this just something that doesn't exist in the US fan culture?
Second, how is the situation with sexism and homophobia in the MLS stadiums? I read an interview with Robbie Roggers (http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-ca-robbie-rogers-conversation-20141130-story.html), in which he says that one of the reasons for him holding back his coming out was the "very homophobic sports culture". Later on he talks about the masculine stereotype for an athlete. In Europe, I was once at a game of a soccer club that is well-know for its diverse and tolerant supporters. Nonetheless one supporter insulted the referee during a match by calling him "gay". Other supporters immediately started to talk to him and explained that what he just said was offensive and not accepable. I really liked their reaction. In other stadiums, I saw banners saying "Football fans against homophobia" like this one http://goo.gl/nzUSUC. Again, I think it could be nice to show such a banner during an NYCFC match to show the diversity of the club and its supporters.
Third, do you know anything about the supporters of other MLS teams? Do any of them have a specific profile and support specific political views? See the examples in my second post.
Thank you very much!
 

BxLio91

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Can't answer your questions in details but I know pretty much a majority of MLS supporter sections have at least one "rainbow" flag to show acceptance and support to the LGBT community.
 
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Golazo

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I'm pretty new to MLS myself. I mainly follow La Liga then the Brazilian and Colombian leagues. If you've been watching local/national news (are you from Europe, now living in nyc? or just curious) there is some very high tensions right now. It's been my experience that at least in NYC lets say someone throws a banana at a spanish or african american or whatever ethnic background the player is, you can bet money that person for lack of better words will get fucked up. Could such a thing happen, lets say, down south or in a more "racist" part of the country? Possibly. I would think you'd still have a better chance of something like that happening in Europe than you would here. Same stance on homophobia, while I can't speak for everyone I think it would be less of an issue here. In general I think sports and politics are two completely separate things here that aren't mixed and basically the same like they are in other parts of the world. I'm sure if and when you follow the league and nycfc you will see that first hand. Personally I would love to see not only NYCFC but also the league one day be at the same level and have the same history and pride that places like Real Madrid, Barca, Milan etc etc have only with the openness of our culture. It's not impossible, I think we are far off, but with the league growing more and more every year and how popular the sport has become just in recent years it's not impossible.
 

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This is a subject that's always interested me in other countries.

The political level is quite low in the US. We have a two party system consisting of two bourgeois capitalist parties, with no labor party. Politics is subsequently, and in my opinion, intentionally, confined to the election cycles for most individuals, and within those parties for the majority of those who are political at all. No General strikes, no mass boycotts, no truly mass demonstrations, etc.

This is especially true in the world of sport. The St. Louis Rams players were more or less unprecedented in their recent "hands up don't shoot" salute, and that's the biggest sport in the country, currently.

When MLS, and soccer as a whole, grows it's fanbase - and when America faces another Civil Rights or Vietnam era moment of radicalization - this situation will likely change.

TLDR, there's nothing like Celtic or FC St. Pauli here, but in my opinion, it has more to do with American society and the state of politics here, and less to do with American Soccer culture and the manner in which it's developed.
 

tomma

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Thanks for your posts and answers! In the last days, I have seen that some professional sports players have worn t-shirts showing their solidarity with the Mike Brown and Eric Garner protests. Does anyone of you have seen sport supporters in the US showing their solidarity by wearing t-shirts or having banners during a match? Is this something you can imagine yourself doing at NYCFC maches?
 

einwindir

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Thanks for your posts and answers! In the last days, I have seen that some professional sports players have worn t-shirts showing their solidarity with the Mike Brown and Eric Garner protests. Does anyone of you have seen sport supporters in the US showing their solidarity by wearing t-shirts or having banners during a match? Is this something you can imagine yourself doing at NYCFC maches?
Anything is possible but I doubt Supporters Groups will get too involved in political or social events.
 

Pattyboybx

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Thanks for your posts and answers! In the last days, I have seen that some professional sports players have worn t-shirts showing their solidarity with the Mike Brown and Eric Garner protests. Does anyone of you have seen sport supporters in the US showing their solidarity by wearing t-shirts or having banners during a match? Is this something you can imagine yourself doing at NYCFC maches?
Hell no. I find anyone wearing a mike brown shirt to be highly offensive. They have their right to do so yes. I'll purposely react with my own shirt.
 
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