Tuesday Kicker: Hooliganism in MLS

Tuesday Kicker: Hooliganism in MLS

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On May 27, 2008
  • Acts Of Stupidity

Via Crewture BlogI decided to wait a while before I dived into this subject here this season. It kind of took one event in Columbus to get me really out on to the field about it. Racist comments and bottles thrown on to the field after New England scored a late goal against Columbus got some people a bit riled up over the past couple of days.

While some of my opinions you may not agree with, that is fine. I view this in two parts, the racism issue and the just overall crazed fans that throw items and what not at games. Some how both are considered by some as acts of “hooliganism” here. I think the first is easily the biggest of the problems that will have to be worked on first. The second will get worked out after the first as it isn’t really as big of an issue as people think.

I will give you my general feelings on this so-called “hooliganism” in Major League Soccer. This version of “hooliganism” is here and going on whether we really like it or not, though its nothing like real hooliganism in Europe. Every town has a few bad apples and its unfortunate that it happens like that but we can’t let those bad apples spoil the fun for everyone else.

The racist comments yelled at players may be the biggest concern here. FIFA and leagues around the world have gone out of their way to eliminate racism in soccer. And for a good reason too. Its unfortunate to see videos like the one below and hear such things. But I have faith the league, the clubs, the players, and the fans will police this stuff better after hearing these things.

(warning, offensive language!)

That is the biggest of problems and maybe worries here but everything else is a little over blown in my opinion. EDIT: MLS Commissioner Don Garber has just issued a statement regarding the issue in Columbus…saying “We are investigating reports of incidents from the May 24 match between the Columbus Crew and New England Revolution and will take appropriate action based on our findings.”

Throwing bottles and such on the field aren’t cool and those fans shouldn’t be allowed to do such a thing. But at the same time, the streamers aren’t too bad and I could care less about that part of the crazy fans in certain towns. I know some writers out there don’t like them being thrown on the field and I understand that. It does break up the play a bit and I think its an issue that will resolve itself over time. Its probably a sooner rather than later though when you mix in other things being thrown (racist comments, batteries, beer, etc.).

There’s also the issues of fans getting into fights and what not after games. Its not cool, but it happens. But let’s let the authorities handle that and it will go away in time.

I know some of my readers continue to email me stories about different towns having these problems after and during games. Some message boards and websites out there continue to push the issue and that’s all great but it’s not my cup of tea because I’d rather get all the facts before I present a story with half of the information and look like a mis-informed jackass like some places out there have.

I know those sites and boards want to create awareness and discuss it, which is fine. But it comes to a point where the league will step in and stadiums will step in an police those bad apples. It should have been done sooner in some cases but it always takes one bad experience to change people’s minds about things.

The league will step in, the clubs will step in, and the stadiums will step in to ease these problems. More importantly there are enough good fans in these supporter’s groups that will step in and push away the bad apples from doing such a thing. The true supporters of this league know how to act when we really break it down and will not allow the stupidity of one or two to get in the way of all the fun.

It’s always a few that make a large group look bad. I know those fans in Columbus will handle the few that decided to act immature and irresponsible on Saturday. The same way that fans in other towns will make sure their fun isn’t ruined by a few others that decided to do stupid things.

But for the most part, these kinds of things aren’t the biggest worry for fans of MLS. I know it isn’t my biggest worry. I’d rather worry about why the league isn’t getting enough press with the main stream media within the US than this issue. Then again, I am a little more laid back on certain things, hence why I’ve waited around for weeks on this topic.

Plus I know this stuff isn’t nearly as bad as things that have gone on in other leagues here in America. NBA fans remember the player-fan fights of a few years back, or the crazy fans in baseball running on to the field to attack a first base coach, or fans in some NFL towns throwing batteries and bottles on the field at the opposing team. Let’s not even go into the fans at venues in other leagues in the US that have seen the very likes of racists before/during/after games. Sadly its been apart of our culture for far too long.

Believe me, as someone who’s seen some bad apples in person, what went on in Columbus and before in LA, Houston, and Toronto are really nothing in comparison to other things that we’ve seen in professional sports in America and in other places around the world.

As uncalled for an inappropriate as racism is in soccer, it will work itself out as people will do what they have always done and that is to work together to eliminate the problem. Sometimes we have to learn to relax a bit and have faith in other people to resolve issues like this.


  • May 27 2008
rest assured, we are on the prowl right now and are working on ideas to not only take care of these issues, but to help improve the image of Columbus in MLS.
  • May 27 2008
rest assured, we are on the prowl right now and are working on ideas to not only take care of these issues, but to help improve the image of Columbus in MLS.