(9/13, 11:20pm Edit) Preface: Seattle Sounders fans in general, this piece is NOT about you. It is about a few members of the ECS leadership with whom I interacted and the rudeness I encountered by them, which is rooted in the ECS hooligan culture. After reading the comments left, I felt it needed some clarification. Like I said in the article, I don’t care about the peoples’ words, but the culture that breeds this behavior, as you can see in the attached pictures.
Last night I did a lot of fan interviews, both Quakes and Sounders. When it came to Seattle fans, I wanted to talk to them about Avaya Stadium, engage in general banter about our teams, and wish them well as they saw the match. The idea was to let Seattle fans know that Quakes fans are pretty cool and welcoming, and hopefully thaw the ice over the past few years. For better or for worse, the San Jose Ultras have given the greater Quakes fanbase a tainted image, one that I do not think is fair for our team.
While most Sounders fans were cool (I will put up a pod later), I had some interactions with leaders/capos of ECS. Needless to say, they were dicks through and through; perhaps a side-effect of living in “Silicon Valley-lite?”
I asked one of the ECS capos if I could interview him quickly for my pod, and he seemed open to the idea, but was busy. No worries, I get it. I put him as a “maybe after the game” person.
I decided to try my luck at one more capo. “No, leave.” The irony? This dude is a leader of Fog City Faithful, a Sounders supporter group located in the Bay Area. He’s also an AO member. I found this out a few minutes later as I’m talking to some other Quakes fans about my experiences trying to talk to ECS when he comes down greets some of his AO buddies (the same fans to whom I was speaking!) at the base of the stairs.
After this second guy, I asked myself “They can’t all be dicks, right?” Wrong. I asked another capo, this time a female, and she was the biggest dick of them all! “No, you need to leave now.” Thinking she may have mistaken me for someone who was trying to start shit, I tried to explain that I just wanted to ask them questions about the stadium, welcome them to SJ, reassure them I’m not trying to be a dick . . . “No. Go. Now.”
Suddenly it dawns on me: ECS breeds a culture of being dicks. Whether they are from Seattle or the Bay, they are dicks who give soccer a bad name.
After the game, I ran into the same people (eating at In-N-Out no less, they hate our city/state but love our food) and asked one last time either to bury the hatchet or to confirm they are nasty people. Ironically, it was the same guy I first asked that was part of this crew, and this time he was in full ECS dick mode. Not surprisingly, I got the same response (edit: audio posted at the top of post, and a link to why being curt is considered rude as a few ECS people on twitter don’t understand it). I thanked them for their time and left.
I knew they were hooligans, but I had no idea how much of a hooligan firm ECS is until I did some research. They have a history of violence (see post-script below), including clashes with Portland/Timbers Army fans. They also have a history of vandalism and unruly behavior which seems unmatched by today’s standards.
ECS does have its perks, though. Aside from the “We Live and Die by Bule and Green” tifo (instead of “Blue and Green”) which you can see at the top of this post, they also put up tifo upside-down in the middle of a match. Clearly they are inexperienced in such matters, or just have no idea what they’re doing. I’ll go 60%, 40%.
Here’s my concern, and the reason for writing this post. Normally I could care less about other fans being dicks. Your team, your rules, and your fallout from your behavior. Free country, be a dick all you want.
However, if the Seattle Sounder organization is going to let ECS continue to run rampant in promoting a hooligan culture, I have to wonder if Seattle is letting a bomb grow before their emerald eyes. These fans are what the MLS fears most: ignorant thugs/social misfits who relish violence and criminal behavior. They are growing beyond the confines of Washington, as I experienced with the Fog City Faithful member; I am told he is a cool guy, but being within the ECS community, he had to be a jerk to fit in. This says a lot about ECS.
MLS needs to act now. Hooliganism gives the league a black-eye, and Seattle is leading the charge. Yet the silence from MLS speaks volumes. It shows MLS is either ignorant about ECS, is powerless to do anything about it, or wants to let the Seattle FO deal with the situation instead of intervening (which has yet to happen). Regardless, inaction is simply condoning hooliganism at this point, especially with ECS. Either do something about it, or don’t be surprised when it blows up in your face.
To the ECS members with whom I interacted: I understand. No hard feelings. And I’m sorry you couldn’t go a full season without beating us. Better luck next year.
After this article was published, I received A TON of backlash from ECS people. One person was kind enough to give me this picture of an ECS statement in which they outright state they are not hooligans, while highlighting some acts of certain people whom identified themselves as ECS. These highlights include people “getting too aggressive with photographers and onlookers” and citing “physically abusing any innocent bystandards” as a reason for this statement. Whatever may have happened, it definitely implies hints of hooliganism within the ECS community, which is characterized by violent behavior. Thank you Spook the Booligan for this!
While I applaud ECS for making this statement, it only affirms my post that ECS does have hooliganism within its ranks, which MLS and the Sounders organization must combat. One of the ways which they can do this is by treating opposing fans with dignity and respect. I hope ECS also addresses this tweet by an ECS Ultras group in which they seek to “bash some faces.” Hopefully this is a “live and learn” situation.
Finally, if ANYONE would like to rebut the claims I made, I will open up my blog and host your response. Email me your article, address the claims mentioned, and we’ll let the court of public opinion do the rest.