Monday, August 10, 2015

Soccer Hooliganism Comes to New York -- Not the Red Bulls' Fault

Soccer hooliganism, long the bane of several countries' existence, has come.

Not just to America. To New York City. And even to New Jersey.

Dave Martinez wrote it up on the Empire of Soccer page. Apparently, it started during the 2nd of the 3 scheduled regular-season matchups between the New York Red Bulls, a 1996 charter franchise in Major League Soccer, formerly the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and still called "Metro" by their most ardent fans; and New York City Football Club, an expansion team established by English giants Manchester City. (They also bought Australian club Melbourne Heart, and changed their name to Melbourne City.)

The City fans started it. Apparently, according to the article, even before this incident, some of their fans (it may have been a dozen, but that's a dozen too many) were making Nazi chants -- at "home" games inside Yankee Stadium.

Granted, this is not the original Yankee Stadium, where Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling. But this kind of behavior is inexcusable, especially in soccer, the most inclusive sport there is, in both race and religion. And, for the record, the main NYCFC supporters groups have condemned it.

Then, yesterday, some of NYCFC's "Ultras" -- the name preferred for fan groups in Europe, rather than "hooligans," since, generally, Ultras don't fight unless provoked -- decided to take it to one of the major Red Bulls' supporters' groups, the Garden State Ultras.

Bello's Pub, on Market Street, right across from Newark's Penn Station, is home to the GSU. If you're coming off New Jersey Transit at Penn Station, it's the first bar on the Market Street/Ironbound pub crawl, before you walk onto the Jackson Street Bridge, cross the Passaic River, and head over to Red Bull Arena in Harrison. (It's just over a mile. With no stops, it can be walked in 20 minutes. With stops, it varies.)

The NYCFC Ultras went into Bello's, looked around, decided that the GSU didn't have the numbers to handle them, and set it off.

Big mistake: The GSU did have the numbers, it's just that some of them were upstairs. They came downstairs, the action spilled outside onto Market Street, and the NYCFC hooligans got clobbered before New Jersey Transit police came over from the station and separated them.

This is one of the problems with being an expansion team, with no fan history: You don't know just how much you don't know. Metro/Red Bulls culture has 20 seasons of experience, and some of these guys have been there the whole time, or nearly so. If they have to defend themselves, they know how, from the rare occasions when it's been necessary.

The NYCFC dopes, not having supported an MLS team before (almost none of them are Red Bulls fans who defected, rather they glommed on after the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and the growth of TV coverage of the European game), figured, "Hey, we've seen YouTube footage of hooligan rucks in England and Europe, we'll just copy what they do." Which goes by the boards once you get hit with a fist, or a boot, or, if it gets worse, a bottle or a blade. As the old saying goes, No battle plan ever survives the first shot.

I've been to plenty of Red Bulls games (although not last night's), and I've been to Bello's a few times. I've sat with these people, both in Bello's and in Red Bull Arena. I've eaten, drunk beer, talked sports, cheered the team and yelled at opponents and referees with them. They're usually reasonable people, not out to hurt anyone, but they will defend themselves when necessary.
They usually don't have to defend themselves against established regional rivals, such as the New England Revolution, the Philadelphia Union, or the team they really hate, D.C. United. (They hate the Washington club more because, unlike the Revs, D.C. had early success in the league. The Union are a much more recent addition.) These teams, for all their passion, would rather limit themselves to what's known as verbal abuse.
But against NYCFC, twice now, some chumps wanted to start something, and twice, it got finished for them. Soccer hooliganism has come to America... and the Jersey Boys showed the City punks who was tougher. They are NOT worthy of Yankee Stadium.
The odd thing is, their parent club, Manchester City, are not known for having a firm that looks to start trouble. That's the other club "in Manchester," Salford-based Manchester United.

So where are NYCFC getting the idea that this is what's done? Because this is not what's done if you want to keep from getting smacked.

And you do want to keep from getting smacked. That's not what fan groups are about. Brag on your team, sure. Mock the opposition, absolutely. Have a little fun. Tell them your team rules, their team drools. Sing songs about how your team is awesome and their team is shit. (Even if the competitive reality is that it's the other way around.)

But fighting is out. We get enough of that at Yankee Stadium when the Boston Red Sox come to town.

Oh yeah, the game: The Red Bulls beat NYCFC 2-0. Three "New York Derbies," 3 wins for Metro.

NYCFC brought in legends Frank Lampard from England, David Villa from Spain and Andrea Pirlo from Italy. So far, it hasn't worked.

They're still a farm team with no real home and no history.

The Red Bulls' history has been a frustrating one: No MLS Cups (playoff title, reached 1 Final), only 1 Supporters' Shield (regular-season title), and no U.S. Open Cups (reached 1 Final) in 19 completed seasons (this being the 20th).

But that's more than NYCFC have. All they have are some big names, the conceit of playing in Yankee Stadium, and a record as a team with an evil and stupid fan base.

I'd rather schlep out to Harrison on the PATH train, and back, than sit in familiar Yankee Stadium with these bastards.


Raffaele said...

Some Random Comments:

So, according to your article, you need to be a fan of a team to know how to fight (defend yourself) but at the same time the GSU very rarely gets into fights????

From what I've heard the most fights the GSU participate in are amongst themselves.

I used to be a Metrostars fan from the very beginning but when they decided to ship a NY/NJ labeled team even deeper into NJ then drop the NJ label, coupled with season after season of failure and fired coaches, I lost interest and went back to my rooting interest in Europe. Fyi there's a lot of NYCFC fans who feel the same way not entirely World Cup bandwagon fans as you suggest.

As in all sports a team that has been established for many years should be expected to beat an expansion team, particularly one with players joining a team within a matter of weeks. So I'm not sure what your bragging about.

Uncle Mike said...

"You're." Shit, you NYCFC morons can't even fucking get THAT right!

According to my article, these Man City NYC fans think they know what soccer fighting is from what they've seen on the Internet, but when they faced real fans, they got their heads handed to them. Experience matters.

The truth is, NYCFC should never have been formed. It's a joke franchise.

Although, to be honest, it's not nearly as big a joke franchise as the Mets, the Jets, the Nets or the Islanders. But, as a joke franchise, that's one way they've surpassed the CosFauxs, the Small Club In Hempstead.

Raffaele said...

Wow. Grammer? That's your best response?

As much as you may hate to admit it, NYCFC has been a great addition to the league and the growth of soccer in the US in it's short existence. They have a better attendance record than the Red Bulls all while providing poorer quality on the field.

As a Yankees, Rangers, Giants fan you can't blame me for jumping ship to a team willing to spend the money to try to improve or at least make a splash.

NYCFC is a work in progress much like the Metrostars were when they first started. But I'm willing to bet NYCFC can win a cup in less than 20 years in a league with more teams and competiton than there's ever been.

Mic drop.....