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Has Hooliginism “Kicked off” In MLS?


tfc bus Has Hooliginism Kicked off In MLS?

MLS has now for years struggled to bring passion to is stadiums. American pro sports are known the world over for having casual, somewhat disinterested supporters based on European or Latin American standards. For MLS’ first decade of existence, these types of fans seemed to be the majority in MLS stadiums, and thus the league was seen as an ugly stepchild of football by true fans of the game. The quality of play while poor by any objective standard wasn’t as poor as many of the European oriented fans claimed: in fact by 2000, MLS having adopted international timing rules resembled a non low tier European league with some bright stars. Yet those ethnic fans and others of the European ilk who enjoy football still wouldn’t give MLS a fair opportunity.

Thus the league continued with a few bright spots like RFK Stadium, here and there scattered among a wide swath of passionless football, two words that in the international vocabulary do not belong in the same sentence. What’s worse is after 2001 the quality of play in MLS dipped substantially. During these dark ages the league actually cemented its long term presence on the American sporting scene by cutting costs and maintaining the loyalty of enough fans that the casual crowds we saw during the 1996-2001 time period became more vocal and passionate despite the inferiority of the league’s quality between 2002 and 2006.

That passion allowed the league to begin to take chances as it did when it adopted the designated player rule in late 2006 and began signing high the type of high profile international players MLS had been missing since 2001. The change in league rules put a firm spotlight on MLS both in the American sports scene and by the foreign press. It also made MLS more acceptable as a sporting choice both for mainstream American fans indifferent to the sport and for European football fans who looked down upon MLS.

With this change of landscape, new challenges have emerged which MLS to this point seems to have ignored. No question exists that MLS is sweaty about attendance numbers and the type of fan that may have seemed undesirable in the league’s early years now are being targeted. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: but it is a potentially dangerous thing if not done within reason.

Dougie Brimson, a noted author, screenwriter and expert on Hooliganism spoke to me late last week and mentioned several factors which led him to meet with MLS officials last year. His meeting with MLS officials went well enough but a lack of follow up by the league has led to a host of recent episodes after the situation was “kicked off” by Toronto FC in the first match this season when they had several thousand fans travel to Columbus. Columbus police lieutenant Kevin Conley said numerous incidents took place with TFC supporters in Columbus.

“Any game is disappointing when you have a crowd that’s not acting well or, let’s say, sociable,” Conley said. “We don’t mind a little bit of drinking, or a little bit of fans cheering and rowdiness. But at the same time, if we come in and ask you to quiet it down and stop the behavior, we kind of expect a little bit of co-operation.” Conley also said Toronto fans had been urinating on a chain link fence that bordered the field, even though it looked onto a church across the street. The churchgoers called police, and one man was arrested.

“”They’re pissing all over the damn place, and as you can see, they’ve littered it up considerably,” Conley said. “And then they decided that they were going to surround one of our cars like they were the Indians and the car was Custer.”

That same day, several TFC fans stormed the Crew Stadium pitch during the match and tried to tackle Columbus GK Will Hesmer. Clearly the effort was not organized and the fans were ejected but still the incident was worrying.

“”You know what? Part of the sporting spirit is being antagonistic,” said Andrew Gorsky, a 22-year-old Toronto fan. “You can’t deny it.”

This is part of the problem. When Toronto FC joined MLS they had a number of fans, not a majority by any stretch of but enough were outspoken enough in saying that Americans fan lacked passion at football matches and they were going to show Americans how to support the sport and their club. This I find ironic considering less than ten years ago when the U.S. played Canada in a World Cup qualifier the match was held at a small high school stadium. Perhaps that experience awakened the Canadians to their own faults as football fans and now they are determined to “show the Americans.” (The US clinched a World Cup birth that day and the whole experience seemed surreal because instead of being in a big stadium or either cheering or hostile fans the crowd was a smallish high school like crowd made up largely of American fans who had crossed the border for the match.)

When New York visited Toronto several marauding groups of drunken fans tore apart several GO commuter rail cars. Here are some video and photo links thanks to MLS Rumors.

That same night ESPN cameras picked up a number of incidents including that of a TFC fan storming the pitch and behaving inappropriately. The next day on the popular ESPN program PTI where Soccer is only mentioned during the World Cup, Mike Wilbon who has been far more supportive of MLS than his other snobbish colleagues hit out at the Toronto fans for ruining the sporting atmosphere. This is part of the risk that those soccer fans in the U.S. and Canada who live in a vacuum fail to understand or appreciate. Part of the sporting media’s resentment of international football as a sport derives from what they perceive as a violent culture around the game. Whether this is right or wrong (I happen to think it is wrong)does not really matter. If given the opening, these powerful sports writers have the bully pulpit to bury the perception of MLS before it gets anywhere near attaining the level of penetration in the North American sporting market that is possible.

The incidents have not been limited to Toronto FC supporters. As Dougie Brimson noted in my interview with him, he believes a copy cat culture feeds Hooliganism worldwide and that since TFC “kicked off” the MLS Hooligan culture it will take an extensive effort to reign it in elsewhere in MLS. What has become obvious is that Brimson’s dire predictions have come to pass.
In Houston minutes after a draw with Chivas USA two Saturday’s ago, a member of the El Battalion supporters group stabbed a Chivas supporter in the middle of a large fight between fans of the two teams. I have spoken to a number of Houston supporters including a few in the Texian Army, the largest supporters group of the Dynamo and they are concerned about the situation. The Dynamo however I am assured are serious about containing this problem and the following home match against Colorado contained no incidents.

Chivas USA according to Luis Bueno one of the top soccer writers in the country, and a frequent American Soccer Show guest has had to take steps to ban a supporters group. This is Luis’ report from Sideline Views:

If you watched the Chivas USA-New England match, you may have noticed the large number of empty seats at the match. While this is nothing new – empty seats commonly outnumber filled ones at Chivas home games – what was different from this particular match was the absence of a certain fan group.

Legion 1908 was not present at the match, and no the Mexican Chivas did not have a reserve-laden match within driving distance on Sunday.

Apparently, a member of Legion and a member of the new Chivas USA supporters group Union Ultras were involved in some sort of altercation. A Chivas staffer told us that one member of each group committed an “act of violence” at the last Chivas USA match at HDC, on April 26 against the Galaxy. Apparently, there was one altercation inside the stadium and a retaliatory one outside.

So this brings us to another key point of my conversation with Dougie Brimson. The possibility for violence between supporters groups of the same club. I have received a few reports from other MLS cities that tensions have arisen between more “mainstream” groups and “fringe” groups supporting the same club before and after matches but this is the first reported incident of the nature.

Brimson also fears the amount of European football available on television in the US now that was not available in MLS’ early days is also contributing to a growing Hooligan culture. Much of this he fears is due to a dropout element in society that use football to organize what is essentially gang like behavior. Most of these individuals are between the ages of 17 and 24, are Caucasian and are looking for a release from the difficult side of life, according to Brimson. This feeds Hooliganism in Europe and the accessibility of information about European football now feeds this culture in North America.

It doesn’t have to be this way to bring passion to the matches. DC United has for years had an incredible atmosphere at RFK Stadium with a mix of ethnic groups and socio economic groups as well. The accessibility of RFK to Metro Orange and Blue lines has given the Red and Black a cosmopolitan feel at games, and an incredible atmosphere to boot, an atmosphere contrary to the writings of some, I believe is far superior to anything the Toronto supporters have produced. The LA Galaxy has averaged over 20,000 fans for most the league’s existence in a very saturated sports market and has had very little trouble with violence or hooligan like behavior. DC United and the LA Galaxy have given MLS a good name and in no small irony have also been the league’s two most successful franchises on the field and at the gate.

As Brimson suggests, fans have to be the ones as they were in England to take charge of this situation and put a stop to it. The leadership of mainstream supporters groups need to continue to work with the clubs and league officials to stamp out this growing culture before it goes much further. But avoiding the issue or sticking our heads in the sand as some seem to be doing isn’t going to solve the problem. Nor is assuming hooliganism and passion are synonymous. They most certainly are not. Understanding that, and acknowledging that a problem exists are the first step in curing it. The rest from that point could be comparatively simple.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

59 Responses to Has Hooliginism “Kicked off” In MLS?

  1. Michael Hunt says:

    All the incidents mentioned don’t really jump out at me as “hooliganism”. America is too vast a country for gangs of hooligans to travel to an opposition city with the sole intention of causing trouble. What I do think might happen, is that this lack of opposition fans could turn supporters groups from the same teams against each other. Perhaps in Toronto, the Red Patch Boys could turn against U-Sector?

    Digressing, I feel this more passionate atmosphere to MLS could help it become accepted by the mainstream, and attract the sought after adult male demographic, rather than sub-urban soccer moms and their families.

  2. bgnewf says:

    Again i have to take issue with a number of the assumptions being made about TFC fans and their alleged “hooliganism”. Nowhere in your piece did you mention the lack of portajohn facilities for 2500 fans arriving in Columbus. Nowhere in your piece did you mention Columbus police officers meeting out fans with tasers and pepper spray at the ready as they disembarked from their buses. No whwere in your piece did you mention that TFC fans assisted Columbus Police to extricate one of their cruisers from a muddy field only to be roughed up for their trouble.

    Nowhere in your piece did you even try and put what have been a few isolated incidents into any reasonable context. I was at the Red Bulls game and I saw the “field storming” incident you refer to. It was a drunk running out the field and sitting down. Not condoning this in any way, but perhaps the recent spate of streakers at American matches could be used to provide some context here. At least this guy did not try and run from the security.

    Do I generally agree that hoologanism is a bad thing and possibly detrimental to the game in North America? Yes I certainly do. Do I think that MLS fans are any worse than Montreal Canadiens hockey fans burning a police car in recent weeks or some of the fans in fights that take place at NLF parks during tailgating each and every week? No I certainly do not.

    Yes I understand that there is a book to plug here, but I think you are doing a dis-service to both your readers and to Soccer in North America by sensationalizing out of all proportion what many soccer fans feel is an unfair label of “hooligan”. I a supporter and fan I resent the label and i hope that you are at least open to trying to bring more context and fairness to your coverage of this issue.

  3. cmonureds says:

    why is this person saying that we TFC fans “kicked off Hooligan culture?” (I don’t recall seeing Elijah Wood peeing through a fence in Green Street). Supporters drinking too much, urinating in public and running on the pitch can happen in any sport. So can fan-on-fan violence (walk through the parking lot after an NFL game). True hooliganism is organized fan violence between two groups of anti-social thugs who use the football as a smokescreen to hide behind when expedient.

    Clearly, this article is sensationalist, terribly bad-minded and misleading, and what’s making it worse is the going all South Park on us …… BLAME CANADA!
    Would you like a little helping of xenophobia with that ignorance, sir?

  4. kartik says:

    I appreciate all of the above comments.

    The point of the article is to be educational not to accuse any set of supporters of anti-social behavior. Dougie Brimson whom I interviewed for the American Soccer Show (which you can download via CSRN’s home page or listen to on MLS -Rumors. net)believes TFC has a problem, and trust me: he knows what he talking about.

    What I myself do know is your club and your supporters has to police this situation better. Our league is now 13 years old and we’ve never had a run of incidents like this. As far as Xenophobia, far from it. I merely find it ironic that TFC fans on various message boards en masse scold Americans for a lack of passion about a game whose national team has been far more successful than yours and whose league you have joined. Why join MLS if your fans are constantly going to attack us Americans for lacking passion? (for the record I have nothing against Canada and often times root for your national team and have for years advocated Canadian players being counted as domestic players in MLS: I can dig up the old articles and link them.)

    Most MLS fans were happy to expand to Toronto. However, speaking to as many people as I do in the game, particularly supporters of other clubs concern about TFC is becoming more apparent. Whether its fair or not is really not the issue.

    Perception dictates all and we are trying to build a fan friendly league that also doesn’t invite the haters of the game in the USA to pile on us.

    Getting back to the initial point. Everyone understand the vast majority of TFC fans do not behave as depicted in this post or the numerous other articles on sites like MLS Rumors and various newspaper pages. However, when Mo Johnston dismisses the fans as simply some bad apples and does nothing about the larger problem developing and your fans don’t step up and ostracize those involved the problem grows.

    Chivas USA has a lot of problems right now on and off the field. But I applaud their management’s willingness to hurt their own bottom line temporarily by revoking fans ticket privileges and by offending a major supporters group. I’d like to a see a similar stand taken by the TFC top brass.

  5. Hank says:

    I’d like to see some TFC supporters lay the boots to Brimson!

  6. John says:

    bgnewf pretty much said it.

    I really am deeply offended by some of the assumptions being made about Toronto FC fans and that we “kicked off” hooliganism. The incidents, such as the peeing on the fence, are so completely blown out of proportion. There were 2,500 + of us, and no where to pee. The tailgate was on a field, so many of us did pee on a fence. As for being across from a church, it was a Saturday afternoon, and the church was off to the side. There was nobody outside. Below is a photo someone took of this “Hooligan” act:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2126/2379228528_9eb1e6853f.jpg?v=0

    I was also right there when when many TFC fans were helping a cop car get unstuck from the mud.

    Yes, there were some idiots there as well, but to make any connection between the incidents that happened and hooliganism is completely ridiculous. Maybe they will help sell books, but it really is offensive.

    I applaud the effort and concern of anyone speaking out against Hooliganism. It is something we should all be concerned with, but these assumptions being made are really off-base.

    Just two other side-notes, while there is often verbal internet forum jabbing between DC and Toronto fans etc.., the majority of TFC supporters have a lot of respect for other supporters from DC and New England etc… We tailgate together, have beers together and enjoy the fact that we are helping build a professional soccer league in North America.

    Also, the main supporters groups for Toronto, U-Sector, RPB, NEE etc.. while there may be some rivalry between groups, and verbal internet sparring, we do respect each other, and on issues that matter to us as whole, we do work together. I could never, ever see a scenario of there ever being violence amongst supporters groups.

    Last thought… I’ve been to a Buffalo Bills game before. And never have I seen so many fist fights, and angry white guys before. :-)

  7. John says:

    Quote “believes TFC has a problem, and trust me: he knows what he talking about. ”

    If he does, he’s basing it on very inaccurate assumptions.

    To be very clear, there has never, EVER been anything remotely close to a hooligan incident involving any Toronto FC supporters group. Mo Johnston’s comment was correct. There was a bad incident involving some property damage on a Go Train after a game. These were indeed a few bad Apples that were very likely random stupid drunk people that were not affiliated with any supporters group. If they were, supporters groups would definitely self police the situation.

    The other assumptions of hooliganism are ridiculous. A random middle age guy running on a field, sitting down, and then assuming the position of getting arrested as an example of hooliganism?

    As I said, Toronto FC fans do have respect for a lot of other supporters groups. Of course there is always some verbal diarrhea by overzealous fans on internet message boards, but for many, they wouldn’t admit that its part of the fun.

    If there was a problem, I would love to see it reported. But as of right now, this attention to Toronto as having a buddying hooligan problem is poor, sensational journalism. Period, full stop.

  8. bgnewf says:

    Can you define what you mean in your second last paragraph when you use the phrase “…about the larger problem developing…”? With due respect, you seem to see TFC fans in particular as some sort of elitist hooligans who feel they are better than any other fans out there.

    We TFC fansin Toronto have considerable repect for fans like Th Barra Brava and Screaming Eagles of DC United and Chicago’s Section 8 for example and we have had time together that has been friendly and convivial. We feel that we have collectively created a special atmosphere and culture at TFC matches that we want other cities to emulate not out of snobbery or elitism, but out of a genuine wish to see the game at this level fourish in both countries. We want to see Red Bulls drawing 20,000 fans. We want Columbus to to have a full house each week and to do well, as they are becoming quite the rival.

    I personally know of TFC fans having their match tickets and season’s tickets revoked by the club for issues at the park. I personally know of TFC supporters who have been escorted off the premises into the hands of the Toronto police. Your implication, that I truly resent, is that we are unable for some reason to police ourselves, when we already have been doing this from day one.

    How about taking some time to go onto the message boards for U Sector, The Red patch Boys, Ultras114 or the North End Elite and look for yourself. Our message boards are open forums that you are more than welcome to look at yourself. We all regularly take fellow supporters to task for what we feel might be behaviour detrimental to the team, to other fans and to our reputation as a whole where we feel it is warranted. We also colllectively defend fellow supporters who we feel have ben unjustly or harshly treated. All I am asking is that you try and include the entire context into the picture you are painting herebefore making such sweeping generalizations about MLS fans in general and Toronto fans in particular.

  9. Berlin says:

    Et tu, Kartik? Hooliganism? If this was any other sport would it be called Hooliganism? If college football fans had peed on a fence, or jumped on the field, or gotten in a post game fight would we call it Hooliganism? Obviously not, that’s a normal weekend in college football. You remember when Texas Tech fans tore down their own goal posts and rammed them into the visitors section? It was called a million descriptive terms, barbaric, despicable, atrocious, unthinkable but NEVER CALLED HOOLIGANISM! Hooliganism is something to be taken very seriously and I think this is crying wolf at this point. I feel like all the talk in the media about Hooliganism is nothing more than fear mongering directed towards a sport that can’t pay out hush money. I don’t want these games becoming dangerous either and I’m not willing to risk my life to go to them, but if that ever became a concern I’d be at the teams door asking for better security. It’s just not the case.

  10. sugarengine says:

    Every single TFC supporter I have met wants to see 20 000 fans in the stadiums of every MLS team. They want the league to succeed.

    Why take the actions of a few drunk people and try to sensationalize it?

    Come to Toronto, join u-sector before a game and talk to ANYONE you like. ANYONE at random. If you walk out of there thinking there is ‘hooliganism’ at Toronto you need a tin foil hat.

  11. TOBOR says:

    Most MLS fans were happy to expand to Toronto. However, speaking to as many people as I do in the game, particularly supporters of other clubs concern about TFC is becoming more apparent. [b]Whether its fair or not is really not the issue.[/b]

    What an irresponsible comment.

    You are nothing more than a muckraker.

  12. kartik says:

    TFC fans………I’d love to come up to a game and correct the record if warranted. Sometime over the summer I’d be happy to check out BMO and revise this piece.

    Also TFC fans whether or not you agree or disagree with Dougie Brimson’s assessment no doubt exists that the game has changed thanks to your presence in the league. As I have said we need more passionate fans in MLS Stadiums. But we don’t need the bad PR that comes with these sorts of incidents.

    Berlin,

    Your comments are spot on in a sense. College Football fans ARE WORSE THAN SOCCER/ FOOTBALL
    FANS.

    However a key problem exists as to why this article had to be wrirten.

    The sports intelligentsia in the USA doesn’t care how many drunk college kids and rich alumni take a piss out on the town or whoop it up with fans of other teams. That’s because to them these frat boy pranks are very American.

    My fear is that these sorts of incidents whether in Houston, Los Angeles, or Chicago will be magnified to kill the game in this country, because so many lay fans of other sports I talk to wrongly have the perception that people get killed at soccer games.

    We don’t need people fearful of going to MLS games because some blowhard in the media like Keith Olbermann or Jay Marrioti makes an issue out of these things to kill soccer.

    Those of you that follow other North American sports leagues other than MLS and the NHL know how cruel sports writers in the US are to sports they view as “foreign” and un-american”

    They want the game to fail. Let’s not help them.

  13. bgnewf says:

    Again, with all due respect, I do not see how you feel that the standards of “fandom” at Toronto FC are causing American journalists to hate soccer any more than some of them already do.

    Jim Rome and his ilk will always hate the beautiful game. You frankly need to grow a thicker skin and realize that his and other haters opinions do not matter in the long run. I personally feel that it is diving (of the Drogba and ronaldo ilk) and the perceived “metrosexuality” or un-manliness of soccer that a lot of scribes hate considerably more than the perception that soccer is a violent game with unruly hooligan bands roaming the countryside pillaging and burning as they go.

    You frankly have delusions of grandeur if you feel that individual soccer fans can change the perception of many journalists out there. If you come to RKF, BMO Field or Toyota Park you will see knowledgeable fans having a great time and creating atmosphere. In time what we as fans create at the parks will become the key element that grows the game in both America and Canada.

    I think this kind of article plays into the stereotypes you yourself are bleating about. I for one think you are only perpetuating stereotypes that these “haters” in the general media latch onto when you base your argument here on incorrect facts. Each of the “incidents” you used in your piece to state that hooliganism is on the rise have been debunked by the people who were there! You sir need to come down from your ivory tower and realize that true journalism and solid commentary can only be as strong as the facts on which they are based upon.

    An open invitation is out there for you to come to Toronto and attend a match. You are welcome at some of our pre and post game festivitied as well. I personally will get you a ticket and take you around if you so like, if that’s what it takes to de-bunk your perceptions.

  14. Brian says:

    “Dougie Brimson whom I interviewed for the American Soccer Show…believes TFC has a problem, and trust me: he knows what he talking about.”

    Does he? Has he been to a lot of MLS games? Any?

  15. RPB says:

    Yeah – there is very little evidence of this problem in TO right now, but the problem is that some guys write crap like about “standing together and fighting cops/security/other supporters” and such and it fuels the flames. We DO have to weed out the few nutcases that have aligned themselves with the fans for their own ends.

  16. bgnewf says:

    To RPB:

    With due respect, I would state there is “NO EVIDENCE” not “little evidence” of hooligan behaviour in Toronto. Talking trash on the Internet to one another is what the internet is for, at least for a lot of people.

    In response, I would draw your attention to an event that took place in Toronto last night. Supporters from ALL the major TFC suporters groups (Red Patch/U Sector/ULTRAs/SSJ/NEE), including numerous individuals who talk serious trash about one another online, all came together in friendship to work hard and to put together a massive TIFO we will be collectively unveiling at the Columbus game on Saturday. Would individuals really hating each other do such a thing? I think not. Again, let’s not play into the stereotypes that this thread and Brimson’s article claims to exist when in actuality they never have.

  17. BBBulldog says:

    “Dougie Brimson whom I interviewed for the American Soccer Show (which you can download via CSRN’s home page or listen to on MLS -Rumors. net)believes TFC has a problem, and trust me: he knows what he talking about.”

    Really? How exactly does he knows what he’s talking about? I have yet to hear of MLS supporter he has talked to, let alone leaders of groups, let alone leaders of top groups. He knows English scene, here he’s just a clueless outsider. I’m guessing his book on MLS hooliganism :D is not selling that well so editor is making him push it lately, hell I wouldn’t be suprised to see Douggie stabbin someone soon to start some rumors haha

    “But I applaud their management’s willingness to hurt their own bottom line temporarily by revoking fans ticket privileges and by offending a major supporters group.”

    They’re hurting their bottom line? They banned 2 guys. Doesn’t Legion all go in on free tickets anyway heh

  18. dangle says:

    The suggestion that Toronto fans have been the catalyst for series of violence in the MLS is completely outrageous and is laughable at best. Are you trying to tell me that there was never any violence prior to TFC’s existence? Yeah, because we are all oblivious to incidents involving New York and DC fans amongst many others. The fact that a couple of guys peeing on the fence is somehow being connected to a Houston fan stabbing a Chivas fan is utterly distasteful.

    So far, the only evidence of real “hooliganism” that you have provided are:

    1) TFC fans riding a double decker bus
    2) TFC fans peeing on a fence due to a lack of proper facilities
    3) TFC fan running out on the field (fully clothed)
    4) TFC fans ripping off a few signs from a train.

    You even mention the Houston – Chivas incident later on, which in my estimation is a far graver cause for concern, and go on to suggest that TFC fans are the cause for all the problems plaguing MLS. In addition, you are the only one to even bring up the nationalities for some weird reason yet you go on to suggest that it is the TFC fanbase that despises America or something.

  19. RPB says:

    lesson learned BIGNEWF – looking forward to seeing it.

  20. Joe says:

    It seems like a huge group of TFC fans is getting a bad rap for a few people who got a little drunk. I’m part of the LA Riot Squad which is the largest supporters group for the Galaxy. Some of our group have been to Toronto and had no problems with them. We’ve also had organized groups go to Chicago on a yearly basis and more recently Colorado. Again, no problems.
    Chivas USA in my opinion has the only hooligan group for lack of a better term. Legion 1908 has been at the root of nearly all problems in LA when there’s been issues and they’ve more recently turned on a new group who supports only Chivas USA instead of supporting Guadalajara.
    If Dougie wants to look at hooligans in America, he needs to come to LA to meet Legion. They’ve organized attacks on LA supporters and have roaming bands of thugs in the HDC during derbies looking for trouble.

  21. Chicago says:

    Dougie Brimson has not spoken to us. He’s looking to make a buck and hasn’t the faintest clue when it comes to MLS supporter’s groups.

  22. narduch says:

    Shame on ‘kartik’ for showing very little journalistic integrity by posting this sensationalist garbage.

    Do some research on hooliganism or don’t talk about it all you hack.

  23. To Michael Hunt: I agree with you that the fan club v fan club is going to be the biggest problem. Quite frankly that to me is the clubs fault for not creating their own ‘official’ supporters group and by not allowing other supporters groups that spring up any club benefits. Yes certain sections of the crowd are going to do their own thing, but until you punish entire supporters groups (like Chivas USA are at present doing), that problem isn’t going to stop.

    To bgnewf: Sorry lack of portable toilets is your first weak excuse. Maybe if your fans weren’t drinking as much as they did before they got to the ground would that issue not been of service. That and the last time I checked, urinating in public is a civil crime. Granted not a serious one, but still a crime nonetheless.
    And as for police attacking unprovoked, had that happened it would have been major news around the world. They were well within their right to have any tools necessary ‘at the ready’.
    I will agree with you one one thing, people who are caught should have their season tickets revoked. I will go one step further and would even more love to see the clubs release the names and pictures of these people just so they can further shamed. These people would then not be allowed into any MLS or International game.
    However to say that those who talk trash on message boards don’t follow up on them is naive to say the least.

    To Berlin: That incident you described SHOULD BE DEFINED AS HOOLIGANISM. The problem is the mainstream media is not going to call it that for fear of losing their gravy train.

    To cmonureds: I didn’t know ‘Hooligans’ were defined as only ‘anti-social’ thugs and that hooligan violence could only happen between two set of supporters. As far as I’m concerned if you do anything, either by yourself or with a group, to cause trouble at any sporting event…you are nothing but a hooligan.

    To John: Sorry but I don’t think these ‘supporter groups’ are going to police themselves. They are going to be more inclined to egg it on if only to prove ‘how hard they are’. I also love the ‘ignorance is bliss’ remark of “a few bad apples”. It isn’t just a few bad apples, but a chain of events that quite frankly started in Columbus. It’s also starting to happen elsewhere and those also need to be reported just as harshly as the events in Toronto have been.

    To BBBulldog: Talk about a tasteless joke to say the Legion get in for free. While they may have ‘officially banned 2 guys’, it seems the entire supporters group didn’t show. The fact Chivas is fighting this head on and doing so in the forefront is something that should be commended.

    As for those who say there are these problems in other American sports, you are 100 percent right. The sicker reality is that the media accepts it as ‘normal drunken behavior’ and treats the same problems that happen at soccer events as ‘the act of Hooliganistic thugs’.

    And to all of those slamming Brimson ‘for trying to sell a book’. Kartik in a past life did an interview with him and pretty much everything Brimson said to Kartik has started to come to fruition. Maybe if you opened your eyes you would realize it.

    The harsh reality to this is that hooliganism is already starting and is well on it’s way to being a bigger problem. Regardless of what ‘hooliganism morphs into in North America’, the seeds that have already been planted need to be destroyed before they begin to bear fruit. For that I am afraid it’s already too late.

    Now if Toronto fans feel I have harshly judged you and you are ready to ‘prove me wrong’, all you have to do is email me at jstarling@csrnusa.com and provide me the plane ticket to Canada (I’ll start working on securing my passport now), lodging and matchday ticket. However I think this offer will end up going as that as the offer I made over on The Third Half to Kansas City supporters.

  24. James says:

    kartik: “TFC fans………I’d love to come up to a game and correct the record if warranted. Sometime over the summer I’d be happy to check out BMO and revise this piece.”

    The record shouldn’t be the record until you’ve done so. Instead, you took the word of an English blowhard trying to sell a shit book as gospel, without speaking to a single Toronto FC fan before vilifying the lot of us.

    No wonder people don’t take blogs seriously…

  25. Toronto_Bhoy says:

    Clueless.

    I have just wasted 15 minutes of my life listening to absolute rubbish…

  26. Anonymous says:

    When I saw the title of the article I thought sensationalism.

    I know Kartik from the American Soccer show and he is very much on the money typically so I was disappointed when I saw the title of this post.

    However despite a very alarmist and ill advised title the premise of the article was quite good.

    The article after a reading is actually very balanced. Toronto FC has had incidents and acting as if nothing has happened avoids the point. The further genius of the blog lies in trying to find a solution and commending the league for growing to this point.

    I’m not sure the league is going to collapse due to hooliganism as is implied by the article but do we really want to find out? I suggest a calm re-read of the story. Sure I disagree with some of what is said but basically you have a very knowledgeable and passionate person here who we listen to each week, or at least those of us interested in the national team listen to each week and he’s concerned about where the league is headed.

    In other blogs he’s called out Columbus, New England and Red Bull for other issues and LA for other issues. He’s been pretty fair to TFC quite honestly, so before going buts I’d listen to his show or read his other pieces on other MLS or US Soccer related topics.

  27. Anonymous says:

    When I saw the title of the article I thought sensationalism.

    I know Kartik from the American Soccer show and he is very much on the money typically so I was disappointed when I saw the title of this post.

    However despite a very alarmist and ill advised title the premise of the article was quite good.

    The article after a reading is actually very balanced. Toronto FC has had incidents and acting as if nothing has happened avoids the point. The further genius of the blog lies in trying to find a solution and commending the league for growing to this point.

    I’m not sure the league is going to collapse due to hooliganism as is implied by the article but do we really want to find out? I suggest a calm re-read of the story. Sure I disagree with some of what is said but basically you have a very knowledgeable and passionate person here who we listen to each week, or at least those of us interested in the national team listen to each week and he’s concerned about where the league is headed.

    In other blogs he’s called out Columbus, New England and Red Bull for other issues and LA for other issues. He’s been pretty fair to TFC quite honestly, so before going nuts I’d listen to his show or read his other pieces on other MLS or US Soccer related topics.

    Going nuts like this in a way the fans of other clubs do not just furthers the perception this article discusses about TFC.

  28. Kartik says:

    We’ve got the squad for the US friendlies about to be announced. (I’ll be at Wembley to cover US-England but like most of you will watch Spain and Argentina via TV before rejoining the team for the qualifiers) I hope the discussion about that will be as constructive and less personal than this one.

    As Johnathan points out I did interview Brimson about a year ago when his book came out and I was skeptical even dubious about his thesis. But sadly many months later with these incidents sprouting up I was the one who seemingly was hoodwinked by my own idealism and feeling that it could not happen here. That’s part of the reason why I am much more willing to embrace his theories this go round. If you read his book his reasoning for how and why incidents would begin have been spot on.

  29. Kartik says:

    TFC supporters:

    Feel free to email me at kartik@csrnusa.com

    I’d like to speak to some of you more about this issue and more importantly perhaps the Argonauts potential move to BMO.

    I’m working on a pice related to that I am positive you folks will like better than this one. :)

  30. John says:

    Quote: “To John: Sorry but I don’t think these ’supporter groups’ are going to police themselves. They are going to be more inclined to egg it on if only to prove ‘how hard they are’. ”

    Well, you’re wrong. You’re basing this on what… a gut feeling? An assumption? What? Have you spent any time on the TFC supporter’s group websites to see what has been said? Have you read a single post anywhere where supporters are talking about the Go train vandalism in in a positive light? Do you even know any details at all about what the vandalism was? Did they trash a train, or where just a few signs ripped off? Do you know of any incidents where supporters are egging negative behavior on? Or are you just pulling these opinions out of thin air?

    Every post I have read and everyone opinion I have heard from fellow TFC supporters is that any act of vandalism is really stupid.

    And how can a lack of portable toilets be a weak excuse? 2,500 fans just drove 8 hours, we get off the bus and there are like 2 toilets. Where the hell were we supposed to take a piss? A lot of TFC fans don’t even drink alcohol…

    The only weak arguments being made are the ones that Toronto has a hooligan problem.

  31. James says:

    Kartik: Why should we speak to you now? You didn’t bother coming to us before you wrote this trash, basically condeming 20,000 people for the actions of 4 or 5. You can’t pick and choose the spots in which you wish to uphold journalistic values.

    TFC fans, do yourselves a favour and don’t bother with this clown.

  32. kartik says:

    In the article I write

    ” When Toronto FC joined MLS they had a number of fans, not a majority by any stretch”

    How is that condemning 20,000 fans?

    Obviously the majority of TFC fans are not like those depicted.

    But the excuse blaming the Crew for the toilet situation is laughable. With so many fans traveling why didn’t your club or supporters groups work with the Columbus front office on this issue?

    Again it’s fine to blame other people for these issues, but why are they so clearly apparent in Toronto and not elsewhere? Is it that your fans are more passionate, that you have no real national team to follow thanks to the ineptitude of the CSA or is it simply a number of incidents being taken on out context?

    Guys I’ve been attending MLS matches since the inaugural season, and I applaud you for filling your stadium. The team I supported folded because we didn’t appeal to the masses of real football supporters with what was quite frankly a poorly packaged product.

    However, no doubt exists that the number of these incidents which all get magnified (like the discussion of the BMO field streamers on PTI which I thought was laughable but demonstrates my point about mainstream sports journalists in the US looking for anything to tear the league and sport down) and we all lose. This league has been building well for 12 years with some setbacks and issues but it was all on an a general upswing that is threatened by this sort of stuff. So the point is even if you guys are policing yourselves things are falling through the cracks and you need to step up your game. This isn’t just for TFC. You guys obviously are more upset about this article but this goes for DC, NE, SJ whomever.

  33. James says:

    We had several people in touch with Crew front office people. They were well aware of our numbers, our methods of transportation, and our arrival times.

    How were we in the wrong because THEY hadn’t prepared for the 2,500 of us, despite our lengthy communications with them?

    That’s a question you might have asked a representative of the supporter group travel coordinators if you’d bothered to TALK TO US. It’s not as if we’re hard to find.

  34. What am I basing this on John, the fact that you are being way too overprotective of your clubs ‘supporters groups’ and the opinion of seeing more ignorance in responses than I see on that of Jamie Trecker’s columns with regards to the US National Team. Maybe if you could actually take yourself away from the situation for five minutes and look at it from an ‘outsiders’ point of view, you would quickly realize that Toronto fans are now fighting what amounts to Custers Last Stand.

    And it seems to me now that since TFC and their fans have been called out on this hooliganism that they are now ‘taking their brethren’ to task in public. I’d venture a guess to say that these people were pulled aside before these public comments have been made.

    And yes what’s weak about the excuse? Simple, there were more than 2 portable toilets you just simply failed to find any. And boy from any crowd shot of any TFC fans either in Columbus or against New York Red Bull, it safe to make a fair assumption that all TFC fans of legal drinking age know how to do is drink.

    I’ll let the TFC fans continue their infighting but I have said my piece. You know how to get in touch with me.

    Oh and to James, it only starts with one you know?

  35. Crew 1996 says:

    Okay I have had enough.

    Kartik you are full of s#$% to even engage these pieces of trash TFC fans. You were so right to post this blog and now seem to be wanting to play nice with the Toronto fans whose behavior here exhibits why we are even having this discussion.

    We saw they did when they came to Columbus and our club is paying the price at the box.

    The behavior of the Toronto fans when they came to Ohio could not be predicted, or even guarded against.

    They were so drunk before the game and were totally wild during the game. We have worked since the league’s inception build up the product with a skeptical public and the behavior of Toronto fans that day not just at the game but in town have soured many causual fans on the Crew and MLS.

    That’s the side of the story you have totally missed. You think it may happen down the road if these incidents continue? It has already happened.

    You wonder why our crowds have dropped since last year? You did not even bother to print what I told you off the record that Toronto fans coming here helped ruin the Crew’s image locally. Again even the article plays nice with them, considering what I told you. Yet they react like children, so that should tell you all you need to know.

  36. James says:

    Sorry, Crew 1996…but wasn’t the gate for the Dyanmo game a few weeks back announced at 15,000+? Yeah, we TFC fans really have the soccer moms shakin’ in their boots. Couldn’t just be that OSU is the only game in town.

    Johnathan: Again, it all goes back to journalistic expectations here. Did anyone from this website bother to talk to TFC’s trip organizers? I’m guessing no, as none were quoted in the article. The only quote from a “TFC fan” was ripped from an article in another publication on the subject (the Columbus Dispatch, if I recall). Were any of you in Columbus? No. Have any of you been to a game in Toronto to see this “hooliganism” in action? No.

    And yet, the vilification continues.

  37. Crew 1996 says:

    We had our smallest crowd in team history the next home match.

    The lowest in 13 years.

    When I spoke to Kartik he wanted to place the blame on our supporters for not selling enough tickets which required us to sell 2,500 seats to Toronto. That’s a load of hooey. That’s why I assume he neglected to attribute our failures to crowd build on your fans. So in a way by doing his due diligence he wrote a softer piece about your fans than many of us would have and yet you reds still react like this. Simply nauseating.

    The behavior of the Toronto fans hooting and hollering and screaming like drunks before the match is exactly what a club that has built the event as a family outing did not need.

    This is exactly why we are now struggling to fill seats despite being the best team in the league.

  38. James says:

    What’s nauseating are the ridiculous half-truths, embellishments and outright lies spoken about TFC supporters by people like yourself and Kartik.

    I wonder why this is the first anyone has heard of the TFC fans who “fans stormed the Crew Stadium pitch during the match and tried to tackle Columbus GK Will Hesmer”…could it be because it never happened? Surely there would exist some YouTube footage of that event, or at least a few still photographs.

    But what’s truly sickening is that a town that prides itself on being the home of the Buckeyes, our fence-soiling antics have earned us the title “hooligans”.

    May I direct your attention to:
    http://osuriots.com/

  39. Soccer Guru says:

    Kartik:

    I initially had high hopes when I saw the title of this post but now am very disappointed that your reporting and analysis have fallen well short of the high standard you typically are known for.

    Has Hooliganism kicked off is your title. Right there you straddle the fence instead of answering the obvious “yes” as Mr. Brimson points out in your interview with him this week and was obvious when TFC fans threw seat chairs onto the pitch and got away with it. The line was not drawn with that first incident and now many people are fearful of taking on TFC including you. You are so damn scared of them you start making nice talking about CFL when they go nutz on you and call you xenophobic.

    You also gloss over the Houston incidents and seem to pretend simply because someone has given you an assurance that the situation is being handled by the club that all is well. Do you not recall the shooting outside the US-Mexico game or were you too busy sucking up Landon Donovan in the locker room?

    You excuse Chivas USA which is the club which helped kick this off, but by no means are they nearly as bad as Toronto when they would star fights outside the Super Classico games.

    You totally ignore the incidents between FC Dallas and Houston fans the past few years and the internal fighting between club supporters groups in Dallas.

    Much more also. I am very disappointed. If you were going to take on this issue you had to take it on more aggressively and not excuse or gloss over the behavior of some. Again if this is the type of neutral story you are going to write, then you should not have written it at all.

    PS. Your explanation about the soccer hating mainstream media is right on, which is again why we need to deal with this here and now before it becomes a matter which they expose. Sad to say as much as I appreciate your other work and all that you do for the game here in the US, you blew your chance to put this emerging culture on the defensive.

  40. John says:

    Quote “it safe to make a fair assumption that all TFC fans of legal drinking age know how to do is drink.”

    To me that nicely sums up your whole “journalistic” approach and lack of any resemblance of journalistic integrity…

  41. bgnewf says:

    I will try again for the last time in this forum to at least have you agree with me Kartik on one thing. The term “hooligan” is offensive. Not just to TFC supporters based on the spurious evidence you cite here, but to any intelligent ardent MLS supporter of any club. Period. This kind of baseless commentary hurts ALL OF US!

    You talk about the image of MLS being tarnished in teh mainstream media by hooliganism. PErhaps you are right. But do you not see that yelling “Hooligan” from the rooftops, like you are doing here with absolutely no base of fact to support your claim, is actually doing far more potential damage to the game you profess to love and support?

    Hooligans, as explained ad nauseum here previously, are essentially just a version of a bloods or crips street gang. Thugs who use the cover of soccer to become violent with one another are hooligans. Hooliganism is deplorable in all it’s forms and I am fully in support of making sure that it does not take root here.

    But with all due respect it is simply laughable to see Columbus supporters coming on this blog and 6 weeks after the fact blaming us for their drop in attendance. Columbus Soccer Moms are hiding in their basements for a month and a half after we came and went? Seems like a stretch to me. The fear of the Big Bad TFC must also be the reason who the Crew supporters had to cancel their one and only bus they were planning to bring to Toronto for tomorrow’s game. Only 18 people were willing to fill a bus for 56 people. That must all be on account of fear. The streets of Toronto must be teeming with bands of toughts carrying cricket bats looking to lay a beating on anybody in yellow.

    The fact that the COlumbus front office pulled out seats from Crew Stadium to put in a concert stage has nothing to do with it. The fact that the team markets itself to the very kind of audience that has been unable to fill MLS stadia for years unsucessfully has nothing to do with it. So the game day experience that is frankly insulting to intelligent soccer fans and to the game itself that the Crew front office has put together (cheerleaders and all)has nothing to do with a drop in attendance.

    Give me a break.

    I wish Columbus all the best in this league and I am enjoying the fact that quite the rivalry is developing between our two clubs. I personally hope that Columbus suceeds at the gate and does well. I think it is great for the league to see an original team in the league’s first soccer specific stadium do well. However I would hope that fans of the Crew would not try and blame us unfairly for their woes. It must be very frustrating to have a successful team on the pitch that has trouble at the gate when you look up across the border and see a new team sell out week after week. However I think that some introspection might be in order before lashing out at fellow supporters who cheer for a different club yes, but in the end want the same thing as you do. That is for the league to succeed and for the elite level of the game to grow in North America.

    But with due respect, take a closer look at yourselves first before trying to pin yet another of the league’s problems unfairly on the Big Bad Hooligans from the Great White North!

    Frankly I am getting sick of it. My ardent hopes of having an intelligent discussion about this issue in this forum have unfurtunately come and gone, lost in a sea of ignorance and half truth.

  42. kartik says:

    What I see developing between you Crew 1996 and the TFC fans is a misreading particularly from the Columbus side about the different demographics of the cities.

    However, Columbus and MLS were doing fine attracting soccer moms and suburbanites to the stadium. I bet many of you did not even know Columbus led the league in attendance one year at a time when the level of play judging by MLS success in international events and the number of MLS players active on their national teams was higher than it is today. (I will give TFC credit: you are the only team in the league that this year has signed a credible ACTIVE national team player in Guevara. MLS continues to be more or less a sub standard retirement home for former internationals which despite its reputation it was not in 1999 when Columbus averaged 20,000 fans)

    The two worlds collide with your two clubs which I have a problem with. TFC fans seem to want to impose their model on the league. You seem to imply in various places that you have the most passionate fans and that those of us in the US aren’t worthy of being true football fans particularly on the traditional British model. You guys are doing great and your city is more cosmopolitan than all but a hand full of cities on the globe, and far more cosmopolitan than any US city. (by western standards most US cities are not cosmopolitan at all) But some MLS and most USL markets depend entirely on the soccer mom/suburban crowd to come to matches. Mexican fans as I have observed in public opinion surveys aren’t swayed to MLS. Rightly or wrongly they see the league as inferior to their own. So this pissing match that you started Crew 1996 is totally un-unnecessary. Both sides misunderstand each other and think they are right when the markets are different. But TFC fans please understand that because American crowds don’t act in the same fashion as you do we are no less passionate about our teams. The number of Americans who travel abroad to follow our national team at times puts the number of traveling fans your club has to shame. I am one of those traveling fans having seen my national team in parts all over. It’s a different culture, and please understand that although you guys did not start the pissing match. Crew 1996 did.

    As far as the term Hooligan, it depends on your definition. I use the term broadly. Others fell violence or some sort violent act must be associated with the individual before being called such. But again it is a culture thing. The US is more religious and conservative than any other major western nation. I am not a conservative but having a background in electoral politics and public relations I know the perception problem. It not that TFC are Canadians as had been implied somewhere above. It is that conservative view soccer as foreign and prone to violence.

    Again Crew 1996, please understand the cultural differences. Besides your attendance has had me concerned for years and I’ll admit as someone who lost my team after we had finally turned the corner attendance wise but had other issues to contend with, I do not have much tolerance for teams whose crowds are tapering off after more than a decade in business.

  43. kartik says:

    Soccer Guru:

    I’m sorry you feel I didn’t live up to my standards on this piece. Considering the angst of the TFC supporters wouldn’t you agree I did touch a nerve anyhow?

    Did you want me to call every non mainstream/club sanctioned group in MLS Hooligans?

    That is what it sounds like.

  44. bgnewf says:

    Kartik:

    In response to your last post:

    Considering the angst of the TFC supporters wouldn’t you agree I did touch a nerve anyhow?

    The “nerve” you hit was basing your thesis on inaccurate information you did not bother or frankly want to confirm. I would have no problem with you making your points and even agreeing with some of them if they were based on accurate information and not hearsay and on the opinions of an author who has never been to a MLS league game. I for one do not feel we are above criticism at all, if it is warranted and supported by the facts.

    and

    As far as the term Hooligan, it depends on your definition. I use the term broadly.

    I frankly think culture has nothing to do with it. It is an accepted fact in Soccer circles worldwide that the term hooligan is derogatory and should be used to describe violent people using soccer as a cover to instigate violence and racist acts upon others. You are simply using the term loosely and irresponsibly. And you are playing into the hands of the mainstream media in America you are so very concerned about sending the right message to about our beloved game and the MLS by using the term the way you do. If you are so very concerned about the way soccer is looked at by Jim Rome and Pardon The Interruption and Olberman then clean up your own act and start speaking in a more responsible manner!

    And again you bring up the fact that there is a perception out there that we are trying to
    “convert” or “evangelize” American fans to our way of supporting our team. Nothing can be further from the truth. Out of goodwill and out of a wish to see TFC and MLS succeed we simply want to let the rest of the league know that there are other paths out there to success. If The Crew or any other team want to take a different path than we do in supporting their club, they certainly can do as they wish, and I personally wish them well in the attempt.

  45. Cashcleaner says:

    “Why join MLS if your fans are constantly going to attack us Americans for lacking passion?”

    - Because there is nothing we like to see more than a bunch of funny-talking Torontonians completely school the rest of the league as to how to properly support your team.

    I thank our brethren fans in the league for giving us that opportunity.

  46. James says:

    “Considering the angst of the TFC supporters wouldn’t you agree I did touch a nerve anyhow?”

    There’s a difference between touching a nerve and getting your facts straight.

    Again, Kartik, I find it entirely irresponsible of you to simply take the word of a man several thousand miles away who’s clearly trying to sell a book at face value. As if he had no agenda. As if he weren’t merely a schill. As if, as if…

    Meanwhile, you have not addressed any of my points regarding your lack of journalistic skills. In particular, your unwillingness to contact members of the Toronto FC supporters groups who travelled to Columbus (as Mr. Brimson did not).

    Of course, I expect you’ll continue to skip past those points and talk about our national teams (which is entirely off-topic) and make ridiculous accusations based on hearsay and speculation.

    And finally, I’ll ask for some proof of the incident where TFC fans “stormed the pitch” in an attempt to “tackle Columbus GK Will Hesmer.” Otherwise, I expect it’ll be removed from the article.

  47. James,

    Hate to break it to you but the bit about TFC fans attempting to tackle Will Hesmer should not be removed from the article. I implore you to rewatch the MLSNet broadcast of the game, the commentators mention it during the broadcast.

    Boy you Toronto fans have pretty much validated the article just in the comments here.

    Oh and John, normally people don’t say things like you stated above unless you know the person writing them is right.

  48. bgnewf says:

    Jonathan Starling:

    I was hoping you could elaborate how I have validated the article with my comments???

    I think I have tried to shed some light on what I know are both factual inaccuracies and irresponsible journalism here disguising itself as fact. So by trying to shed a light on both these issues I am some sort of hooligan bringing MLS into disrepute?

    My friend there is a difference between being able to read and to comprehending what the words you read actually mean. With due respect I think you have focused on the former rather than the latter.

  49. BBBulldog says:

    I’m flyin to LA for Chivas-DC in a couple hours, maybe Dougie can send some cash for Barra and Legion or UU to split and stage a fight so he can sell some more books :D

  50. dangle says:

    Where the hell is the journalistic integrity? I’m sorry Kartik, but I don’t see any. You continue to bash the Canadian national team and CSA in order to provoke the posters on this thread but it doesn’t seem to be working.

    First of all, what I find disgusting is that all of this crap is based on second hand opinion. Have you ever been to Toronto? If so, have you ever been to a TFC game? I find it funny that all you individuals are carrying a holier-than-thou attitude by antagonizing Toronto and TFC fans when in reality our city is far more peaceful than any city of similar size in USA. Heck, I’d wager that even Columbus has more violent crimes recorded in a year than Toronto.

    Secondly, is anyone surprised that the number of incidents will increase as the league grows in popularity? I’m sorry but I’m not going to pat this Dougie guy in the back for this amazing revelation.

    In addition, there are so many facts being side stepped to reach a conclusion that matches your rather astounding thesis that I have a hard time taking anything you say seriously. Maybe you need to worry about your own journalistic integrity before worrying about what the mainstream sports journalism in America thinks about MLS.

  51. Jess says:

    Kartik:

    This is a disgraceful episode in your otherwise excellent track record. This article was on base but since some TFC fans probaly the same ones who attack Americans for lacking commitment and passion started showing up you are playing nice with them.

    Recall many of us DID NOT WANT MLS TO EXPAND TO CANADA. FIFA SANCTIONS FIRST DIVISIONS TO NATIONS NOT REGIONS. FIFA MADE A MAJOR EXCEPTION FOR TFC. YOU ARE GUESTS IN THIS LEAGUE AND WELCOME YOURSELF BY THROWING SEATS ON THE FIELD IN A FASHION WHERE SOMEONE COULD HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED. Yet, you Kartik completely missed this incident, and the episode in Chicago last year when several TFC traveling fans tried to scuffle with middle aged women at Toyota Park.

    Then Kartik you somehow want to make this a neutral league wide story by bringing Houston and Chivas into it. I repeat we have not had these issues in MLS before TFC joined the league. We now have serious issues. More incidents of violence and yes, hooliginism than in England. I have been going to soccer matches since the NASL days when Toronto’s fans were more civil. The truth is we always have drunks and passionate fans but the organized and that’s a key distinction you fail to make in the story, the organized nature of the TFC behavior is not small and isolated as with other clubs but totaly promoted and condoned by many club supporters and from my vantage point the club also.

    Oh and TFC fans. Get more original with your chants. The Scremaing Eagles and Barra Brava could blow your guys and all your “passion” out of the water with clever and original chants and songs.

    As Soccer Guru stated why go halfway with this piece? MLS Rumors didn’t and now I take that site a whole lot more seriously than I take you. What’s next, a love Toronto day on this site? Please if you want to be nice to TFC drop the American Soccer Show name and add North American in front of it.

  52. kartik says:

    James,

    You seem to have more sense than most of the emotional fans connected to their MLS teams. I disagree with you but understand where your coming from.

    But the national team thing IS AN ISSUE. I have seen time and time again for a year and half now on Big Soccer and other forums where TFC fans lampoon American fans for not having enough passion and not really understanding the game. If we don’t understand the game how is it that we have made five world cups consecutively?

    I want to remind all of you MLS is an American league. It was around before TFC came into the league. Most fans of the clubs in the league have attracted a particular type of fan. Rightly or wrongly that is what they have attracted. TFC fans don’t need to apologize for being different but on other forums I have seen numerous (not just isolated but numerous thread)about how TFC fans are going to teach Americans fans how to appreciate the game and how lame MLS is.

    You guys have a decent chance of winning MLS Cup this year. I happen to believe when his attitude is in check, Amado Guevara is the best MLS player of the last five years and with him and a core of players who have played in more competitive atmospheres than MLS, and a manager who hasn’t been “Americanized” in a sense which is not a topic for this particular blog but a topic I have discussed before, your club has as good a chance as any to win MLS Cup.

    But if and when you win MLS Cup are we going to be lectured on how it happened because our fans lack passion and our fans don’t understand the game? James and others here make more reasonable points but a core of your fan base whether you want to admit it or not looks down on American fans.

    Dangle, I’ve been across much of the world. Toronto as I have stated above is more cosmopolitan and cleaner than most major cities on the planet. However, the types of fans who have typically attended MLS game are different than US based fans.

    MLS is NOT more popular right now than it was in the early days. Much of what MLS claims it has accomplished now is simply to win back fans it lost with poor quality of play, silly rules and league meddling in the early days. So your thesis about the league growing in popularity is not valid. It may be that the fans are more hard core now. I’ll buy that, but the attendance figures the first year of MLS are still far higher than any year since.

    Again everything in this article is factual. Perhaps some of the commentary is slanted, but nobody can deny TFC fans have brought a different element into the league, and element many fans in the states are not comfortable with.

    MLSNet/Direct Kick an the Columbus broadcast on opening day which clearly showed a few TFC fans storming the pitch around the 80th minute (IIRC)and Dwight Burgess mentioning it. If those of you at the match forgot

    I would also point out note above the posters who think I was too soft on your club. Note the anger in one of the posts about you throwing chair backs or seat cushions or whatever it was onto the pitch. Note the upset nature of some of these posters towards me for being too nice. That is what you face in many fans in this league. Your ways whether right or wrong have rubbed many US based MLS fans the wrong way. You guys should understand and acknowledge that and work on improving it just as the US based fans need to work on understanding TFC fans a little better and working with you to stamp out a problem which despite denials does exist among a portion of your fans.

    Obviously we have work to do also educating some of our fans about behavior as noted above. You can help us with that as well.

  53. kartik says:

    Jess and Soccer Guru:

    What exactly is it you want from me? A story asking TFC to be kicked out of MLS? I mean seriously you guys know how committed I am to American Soccer, but does simply opening a dialouge about issues that exists with TFC’s fans make me somehow less credible in your eyes?

    I, as most listeners of the show know have serious issues with TFC because of the field turf at BMO which seems to be getting worse and worse as RSL and KC’s broadcasts and coaches pointed out. If TFC should not be in MLS it would be because of that and that alone. We need to work on the issues outlined in this post but that is not reason for kicking a team out of the league.

    For that matter Seattle and NE has a problem with turf that need to be solved just as Toronto’s. NE as you know used to have grass. To quote Dave Denholm, “Toronto is not in Antarctica.” I would expand his statement to include Seattle where it rains so much, and Boston.

    Oh and Jess, above I stated our fans are not xenophobic. You just proved me a fool on that count.

  54. POED says:

    Kartik,

    You want to start a dialouge with the hooligans?

    This article was on point, but your vascilation since in the face of intimidation from the TFC bretheren render you like so many others scared of hooliganism. Do you not get it?

    That is how they win.

  55. eplnfl says:

    Please, everybody call a timeout. While I think Kartik wrote a good piece that needed to be publicly aired, TFC fans are right to point out the American sports fans often engage in over the top and outrageous behavior that leads to violent events.

    Do we have European style soccer hooliganism in the US. No and never did. Sports violence in the US tends to be like the Democratic Party, very unorganized. I am a proud Democrat btw. Has TFC fans behaving badly in Ohio reduced crowds at the Crew games. No. Should there be any talk of Canada not being allowed in the MLS. No. Never! Ok, I’m old enough to remember the NHL when it was the original six only and a US/Canadian league is fine by a Chicago Blackhawks fan.

    Do I believe that the MLS has a brewing storm of
    hooliganism oncoming? No! Do I think a author was trying to sell some books in the US? Yes. The author was right in that the soccer market is taking off in the US and he may want to get a place in it.

    The central idea here is that soccer in America if there is fan violence associated with it, even if no more than what is already existing in the US sports scene, will be used by the still many and vocal haters of the game to bash the game and it will be a set back for the game in the US and Canada! So lets reduce the passion and work on the major concern of bad fan behavior as a threat to the game.

  56. BBBulldog says:

    I can sadly report I wasn’t stabbed, hit or cursed at in LA :( Only bad thing was getting sunburnt from driving convertible whole weekend and watching DC play like little girls :D

    Noone is saying that you shouldn’t watch your back at away matches, or that nothing ever happens, but it’s not some sort of warzone people are trying to portray. My girlfriend’s been to 30 or so aways, you think I’d let her come if there was fighting every time heh

  57. bgnewf says:

    On your Post of May 16th Kartik you state the following:

    “…Again everything in this article is factual. Perhaps some of the commentary is slanted, but nobody can deny TFC fans have brought a different element into the league, and element many fans in the states are not comfortable with….”

    So everything is factual. Great. I can rest easy now that you have decided to state in no uncertain terms that conjecture, hearsay and half truths are “factual” in your mind.

    All I have tried to do here in multiple posts is state that if you wish to present a thesis about TFC fan culture allegedly leading to “hooliganism” and bad press exposure in the US media, you are certainly welcome to do so. People in both our countries fought in wars that allow us both to be free and be comfortable in letting others know our opinions, and I would go to the wall in order for you to have the right to say what you please. All I have been repeatedly asking is for you to base any thesis you may have on facts and not second or third hand reports from people, yourself included, who were not there.

    You have every right to state your opinions. No problem there. Just do not try and justify them with incorrect information.

    For shame. You obviously do not care about the truth, only your version of it. I for one cannot sit idly by while you sit there and smear a group of people you do not know anything about.

    PS. I hope Brimson is giving you a nice little kick-back. You certainly deserve one!

  58. Pingback: My Real Salt Lake Soapbox » Blog Archive » WTF is up in Columbus

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