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New York Red Bulls' monetary attempt to censor their fans from chanting obscenities

Ian Palmer writes about the New York Red Bulls' attempts to censor their supporters chanting obscene songs and the impact it's having on the New York fans. Related posts:Football Shorts – The Naughty Fans Edition

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News 18 Jul 2013, 16:18 IST
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FC Dallas v New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls’ fans

Attending soccer games in Europe, South America and Africa isn’t for the faintest of hearts. You just never know what’s going to happen at matches in many parts of the world, considering violence has been known to erupt at a moment’s notice.

However, over in North America, taking in a pro soccer game is generally regarded as a family affair with its safe, clean environment.  Well, at least Major League Soccer (MLS) and the New York Red Bulls want to keep it that way.

That task is becoming harder and harder as some unsavoury elements of overseas soccer are gradually invading the North American game.

The latest to make the headlines around the globe involves an obscene chant that has for some reason become quite popular at several MLS stadiums.

As far as originality and creativity go, the “you suck a-hole” chant that’s making its way from the east to west coast is quite lame, but MLS views it as rude nonetheless. The soccer league has tried to stamp out the chant by warning fans it will take action against those who yell it at opposing players during games.

But since there’s not much that stadium security staff can do when it comes to several thousand people screaming the words at the top of their lungs, the idle threats by MLS have been ignored.

So those who buy New York Red Bulls tickets now face a different type of proposal.

The Red Bulls came up with the novel idea of paying their fan clubs cash – if they stop the chant during the team’s home games.

The Red Bulls figured they could buy their supporters off by offering three fan clubs $500 for each game for not using the obscene chant. The soccer club offered the deal to the Garden State Ultras, the Viking Army and the Empire Supporters Club, and proposed to pay them in increments of $2,000 if they held their tongues for four consecutive games.

So how did it work out? Unfortunately, the Red Bulls didn’t get the response they were hoping for.

The Garden State Ultras (GSU) basically told the club (via a letter to the New York Post) that it was passing on the offer. Christopher Vidaic, a spokesperson for GSU, said his fan group won’t take a penny from the Red Bulls, and his group refuses to be censored and bought. Vidaic went on about supporting the Red Bulls and also recommended members of GSU cover their faces for the team’s upcoming contests. He admitted that the chant is quite lame, but said fans still have the right to yell it.

The Red Bulls are hoping the Viking Army and Empire Supporters Club (ESC) will take them up on their offer, but the ESC said it hadn’t come to a decision yet. In the past, the ESC’s board said it will support the Red Bulls in their efforts to stamp out the chant, but some of their members may not agree with the board’s decision.  The group has also mentioned that the money doled out to any supporters’ groups may be better off going to charity or some sort of foundation.

As of July 15, the Red Bulls were sitting in third place in the MLS’ Eastern Conference with 31 points from nine wins, seven losses and four draws. The club hasn’t been selling out its home games at Red Bull Arena though, and team sponsors are known to be unhappy with the chanting – since it can be clearly heard during television broadcasts.

Only time will tell if the club will be able to censor its own fans or if the obscene chant will continue.

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