Shaking Off The 'Soccer Is For Fags' Insults

Many people look back to the 1980’s as a golden age, but for soccer fans living in the United States, it was a quagmire. Not only that, but it was also a very difficult experience admitting you were a soccer fan in those years.

If you were fortunate, you could probably see five to six live matches on TV each year. Nowaways, it’s not uncommon to see that many in one day.

To me, the eighties were a very hateful time to be a soccer fan. During high school, I often heard the expression that soccer was “for fags.” It was one of those situations where oftentimes it was better to ignore the conversation than try to debate it. After all, when you’re the minority, how do you reply to such a derogatory statement like that?

What may surprise some people is that the expression is still used quite often in the US (but not nearly as much as in the 80s). See examples here, here and here.

The problem with soccer in the eighties was just as the sport was making small breakthroughts into being accepted, the hooliganism problem had an extremely negative effect on the sport in the United States. I’m not sure how many Brits realize how Heysel and Hillsborough hurt the growth of the sport in the United States. Not that they would care as the focus would have been on grieving for the lost ones and making dramatic changes in the UK to ensure that similar incidents would never happen again.

In the last few years, I finally feel like I belong as a soccer fan in the United States. No longer am I ridiculed for enjoying soccer. No longer am I accused. Instead, thanks to sites such as this one and many others, I can share my passion and discuss the sport (and league) with like-minded people across the US and around the world.

That said, soccer is still a difficult subject to bring up in social circles in America. For example, this week I’m at an Internet marketing conference in Florida. Anytime I bring up the word “soccer” in conversations (discussing my network of sites), it’s guaranteed to be a conversation stopper. There’s that awkward silence when people don’t know what to say because they have nothing of interest to say about the sport.

Now that you’ve heard from me on this topic, I’d like to hear from you. Click the comments link below and tell me about a time where you were ridiculed for following soccer, and whether you now feel like you belong. The best answer (as judged by me) will receive a free EPL Talk T-Shirt. Deadline ends tomorrow, Wednesday, October 10.

24 thoughts on “Shaking Off The 'Soccer Is For Fags' Insults”

  1. Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Still “Major League”. Not threatened with relegation.

    Tell me how that is more manly than soccer.

    When I talk to people about soccer, I don’t tell them about “beautiful, flowing football” or free kicks. I talk about watching West Ham fight to stay in the Premier League in their last 9 games last year. And I ask them how many times they actually WANTED to watch the Devil Rays play in August.

  2. Jabba,

    Good point. Even the poor teams get weeded out of the Premier League, well eventually.

    That definitely adds a lot of enticement for people who may not understand soccer.

    The Gaffer

  3. I love the fact soccer is making its way in the US and I enjoy reading the US prospective on the game.

    However, you have made a mistake by mentioning Hillsborough and hooliganism in the same paragraph.

    I realise that the disaster may have been reported in the US as hooligan-related (it was here as well) but it had nothing to do with violence.

    I encourage people to do some searches on the internet to find the real truth behind Hillsborough.

  4. Is This Betting,

    I completely agree with you and didn’t mean to paint Hillsborough as a hooligan problem. I know the facts, as you do, and the police were the main reason for the blame.

    However, as you mentioned, a lot of people in America considered it as another hooligan-related event – sadly – which was quite untrue.

    The Gaffer

  5. I must confess that I was one of those who insulted the game back sometime ago. It was in the 70’s and it had to do with a girl I was fond of, so it’s a long story. I especially did not see the value of being carded when you should be flagged. The whole card bit seemed sort of wimpy. Still does a bit.

    You are right on target about how football violence, whatever the cause, lead to a negative image of the game in the US. It kept many American’s from viewing the game in a serious light. Even now when I talk about football/soccer as a passion of my later years I almost always have to explain how the game in England has been “cleaned up”.

    America has it’s share of sport related problems, ie drugs, crime, betting but it troubles me that FIFA has to spend a great deal of time fighting racism among fans. Luckily MLB great Jackie Robinson did so much to end racism in American sports. Also, I do not know of a major American sport that has had to be played before a empty stadium or riots taking place between fans of the various teams. A small fight, yes.

    So, thanks to the 94 WC
    coming to the US, the American Womens soccer team, and FSC for bring the best of English football to my home for getting me involved in the game and this community.

  6. I actually take a counter belief that mainstreaming of soccer in Amercia is a good thing, I really dont like it at all, well except for all the great games we get on the tellie now.

    Ive been a fan since the mid 70s and have gone thru all the ups and downs you referenced, but all along Ive felt that following international soccer both national and club teams, I was privaledged to appreciate and be apart of something 99% of the people here in the US didnt get. I never once felt the odd ball, I always felt somewhat sorry for those that didnt get it, man what they are missing out on.

    But now soccer has gone all suburban and landon donovan here, I mean really what could be worse? We have a crap national league, horrificly produced and commented us games, its all going espned, oh my!

    Im not a fan of the packaged politically correct direction that soccer here has pursued to make it acceptable to the mainstream here. If they dont get it oh well, leave it for those of us who do. Remember, most of the people here cant pick out canada on a map, so im quite sure not fitting in is kinda ok.

    Anyway, I kinda miss the feeling that i described above when Baggio missed the penalty and i screramed my head off in a full bar in Philly, ironically full of mainly italian descendants, and people looked at me as though i were nuts, and i just smiled. :) There are many other examples.

  7. Coming from England, it’s a bit of a bizarre article to read. I grew up in a culture where football (soccer) was the only sport people played, talked about and supported. In fact, it’s more of a complete contrast because those who didn’t like football were thought of as a bit weird!

    Still, it’s good to hear that you guys in America can enjoy the greatest sport on the planet without being subjected to abuse by certain idiots.

    Trust me, I’m sure they wouldn’t have had the guts to say these things to certain groups of fans in England and Europe!

  8. You’re taking me back Gaffer!

    I played (American) football in high school, and also captained the soccer team. Found myself in this argument more than once with my football-playing friends.

    Most of it was just good-natured ribbing, but we nearly came to blows a couple times.

    Basically I told them that I could play their sport pretty easily but I doubted that they could make it through one soccer practice. They took me up on the challenge, and I was right.

    As for the “fags” association, I told them that I hurt a lot more people on the soccer pitch than I ever did on the football field. “Pads are for fags”, I think is how I put it.

    It also helps when a 200-lb “soccer fag” can out-leg press the entire offensive line and outrun all but 2 of the receivers and DBs.

    Those were the days…

  9. Yeah, soccer’s great….if you’re a 7-year-old child.

    In the USA, soccer will never manage to draw anything but paltry audiences comprised of pseudo-erudite geeks, euro-wannabes, and foreign-born fans.

    Americans expect results from their efforts…something that, by its very nature, the game of soccer rarely provides.

    You really expect people to care about a game in which the only point earned by the USA during the 2006 World Cup was scored by Italy? Give me a break! That might be fine for your average socialist/Marxist, but not for the vast majority of Americans.

    Furthermore, no red-blooded American will ever respect a game in which its players respond to physical contact by squirming around on the ground in feigned pain like schoolgirls.

    Other than a safe alternative to Unisom and a benign pastime for prepubescents, there is absolutely no role for soccer in America. Unless someone manages to transform the game into something more interesting than watching a golf tournament with the commentators speaking in Swahili, you can forget about soccer ever garnering anything more than a fringe interest here.

    Adding another ball or two into active play would be a good start.

  10. Real men are AMERICAN, foreigner are sissy fags. Soccer is for foreigner, therefore soccer = sissy fag sport.

    Real American hate soccer. Americans are macho ubermanly 350lb muscular HE-men. Foreigners are little 110lb nancy boy fags.

    Soccer is for fags. USA wins at EVERYTHING.

  11. The Limey said it best: “Coming from England, it's a bit of a bizarre article to read. I grew up in a culture where football (soccer) was the only sport people played, talked about and supported.”

    That is precisely why soccer was, is, and forever shall be a FAILURE in my United States: we have choices. My 12 year old son plays 4 sports throughout the year – each of them his own choosing. Soccer fails in the free market where consumers can freely vote with their wallets. The only reason it has worldwide popularity is because it costs next to nothing to play – you can drive a few stakes into the ground and kick around a coconut husk and get the gist of the game.

    Youth soccer is nothing but daycare with some exercise mixed in. The parents that choose that for their children are making a mistake.

  12. soccer is the most pussy sport in the world if u like soccer get the dick out of your mouth and play a real sport.

  13. Why are foreigners in general and Europeans in particular so obsessed with the idea that Americans MUST come to love soccer? I don’t understand this phenomenon but I can tell you its just not going to happen. I’m 39 and in my lifetime I have watched something like 3 or 4 (I couldn’t be bothered to know exactly) professional soccer leagues in America fail due to overwhelming lack of interest. Pele came here in the 70’s and failed. Beckham came here a few years ago and failed. “But But But…..Soccer is the next big thing in America! Its growing so fast!!!! Really it is!!!!” Heard that one? I’ve been hearing that one for well over 30 years. It hasn’t happened. In America, soccer is for girls and for boys……until they are old enough to play football. There is utterly no passion for the game. Most major universities do not even bother to field a men’s team. Football by contrast is played in stadiums packed with over 90,000 fans regularly. The best athletes in America don’t bother with soccer-no interest, no audience and no money. Soccer is too slow for American audiences, not physical enough and is not well suited to television.

  14. ALLAH is just mad because Pachuca defeated Al-Ahly in the Club World Cup.

    All these football haters in this thread just prove that the American nickname for football supports the perception that it’s a p**sy sport. I hope Don Garber changes the name of the US league, and the p**sy nickname will be eventually phased out.

  15. Soccer is for fags. Non fags play rugby, hockey, etc. soccer fags are still fags. and the game sucks, every game is 0-0 and is settled with fag PKs.

  16. Imagine if Game 7 of the NBA Championship ended in a tie, and they decided the winners by shooting five free throws apiece. Imagine if the Superbowl ended in a tie, and they chose five players from each side to kick field goals to decide the winner. Imagine if the World Series ended in a tie, and they picked five pitchers aside to throw strikes, or five catchers to throw out base runners, or five batters to have a home run hitting contest.

    It would be preposterous and infantile… and oh yeah, unjust. But that’s how the rest of the world is – a little underdeveloped and full of injustice. And that’s how they like their games.

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