Discrimination of Supporters’ Groups

February 22, 2015

In my opinion, the biggest story at last night’s match in Sacramento wasn’t the score or how the team played, but the fact that the 1906 Ultras were given an unfair ultimatum on how they could support the team.

Disclaimer: I am not an Ultra.  I have no affiliation with the group or its leadership.

According to Ultras members that were present at the match, the Ultras left voluntarily a few minutes into the match after stadium officials/officers told them they risked going to jail for using profanity.  Quite simply, the Ultras were victims of a discriminatory double-standard.

Discrimination, according to Merriam-Webster, is the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people.

For the Ultras, discrimination was clearly present.  Throughout the match, Tower Bridge Battalion engaged in profanity-laden chants and songs, including “Do you hear the Ultras sing?  I don’t hear a f***ing thing!” and the infamous “If I Had the Wings of a Sparrow” song, among other uses of profanity.  This began before the match, and lasted throughout.  There were no warnings given to TBB, no threats of jail, nothing.

If a team or stadium crew is going to enforce a profanity restriction, but limit the restriction solely to the visiting section’s supporters, it is engaging in discrimination.  This is wrong.  Either enforce the rule equally, or don’t enforce it at all.

Amazingly (or sadly?), this is NOT the first time!  According to reddit, Tower Bridge Battalion apologized and said it happened to the Phoenix supporters’ group LFR1881 as well!  Two acts of discrimination, possibly more, have been perpetuated by the SRFC stadium crew.

Since the SRFC stadium crew has shown itself to be discriminatory against the visiting team’s supporters’ groups, I think SRFC supporters and staff should address this issue in house and offer a formal apology to the 1906 Ultras.  Rather than defusing the situation, it created/escalated a problem by building bad blood between San Jose’s 1906 Ultras and SRFC.  This creates a more unstable environment for future matches between these two clubs.  At the very least, an apology is an olive branch acknowledging the mistake and promotes a peaceful reconciliation.  SRFC should also reexamine its stadium crew staff and policies.  If no changes are made, or no apology offered, we can assume they condone discrimination, and their potential expansion into MLS should be reexamined.

Supporters’ groups are part of soccer.  Supporters’ groups do not have to like each other, but they can coexist peacefully by supporting their respective teams.  This is the reality of soccer, and discriminating against a visiting supporters’ group is wrong no matter how much you may dislike them.

Photo credit to Maciek Gudrymowicz.

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