MLS’ War on Words

Major League Soccer is trying to clean up profane language around the league
by Chris Enger   |   Tuesday, April 10, 2012

MLS is trying to put a stop to profane and vulgar language league-wide

An interesting thread on a soccer supporter’s webpage struck me this week. The leaders of the group were asking that the supporter’s section refrain from chanting the infamous “YSA” chant during goal kicks.

It is not fascinating that leaders were trying to curtail the use of “YSA,” the interesting part was that the facilitator mentions that the desire to change the chant was coming from MLS headquarters via the RSL front office.

First, I love how RSL is dealing with this situation by working with the fans to get rid of the chant instead of acting like another front office that had difficulties working it out. Truthfully, I don’t know the whole situation with New England and their front office last year. I don’t know whether or not the front office spoke to the fans to work this out. I do however know that the last thing any reasonable front office would want to do would be to drill home the point by means of expelling and arresting their most fervent fans.

The difficulty is that both points of view are valid. I can see a team’s front office trying everything they can to get fans into a stadium, and then having to watch as some leave vowing never to return due to the foul language they were submitted to.

On the other hand, I can see the season ticket holders and supporter group member – who willingly pays a lot of their money not only for their tickets but concessions, jerseys, scarves, away trips and more – may be offended when they are asked to stop chanting what they want to chant because someone says it’s rude, offensive or demeaning.

I really do understand both perspectives. Personally, I sat in supporters sections the first few years I attended soccer games. Yet, I moved my seats when my wife informed me she would never come to another game with me again if I sat surrounded by that language.

But, for a moment, let’s look at this through a different lens.

A couple of weeks ago Colin Clark was suspended 3 matches, fined and asked to attend sensitivity training for “using offensive language towards a ball boy.” What he said was horrible. One of the words is completely filthy and shouldn’t be used in any situation, any place, any time. I agree with that 100%.

But the question about the situation and suspension comes down to this: Was Clark suspended because of the words he was caught using or because he directed filthy language at a ball boy, or a combination of both?

If it’s because of the filthy words he used, then why isn’t there more discussion on supporter’s groups outside of using the a-word from the “YSA” chant?

When the suspension came down, writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz tweeted some very insightful comments regarding supporter’s groups and some of the gay slurs they used, especially the ones in Spanish.

“Someone tell me why MLS hasn't cracked down on organized gay chants at stadiums? Sounds like Pluto is a slur. Does Garber really not know?”

Why doesn’t MLS come down harder then? Although you may not hear the word Clark used, there are many others being yelled at players for 90 minutes. Granted they aren’t as horrendous, it doesn’t make them positive by proxy.

If Clark was suspended for saying these words, is MLS saying that he’s the only one doing it? Does MLS think we’re that dumb? And if indeed more players are saying them and not getting caught by field microphones, is it even possible to police them on the field?

It’s always been my belief that what you think you say, what you say you act and how you act you become. It’s who you are.

Be passionate, love your team, fight for them and yell for them. I’m not saying any of that should stop but watch what you’re saying and to whom. We are all a part of a bigger picture.

If you need an example on how to be passionate without crossing any lines, look no further than Portland Timbers and the Timbers Army. Arguably MLS’ most fervent fanbase has a long list of chants; and yet there’s not a profane word to be found within them.

I’m not going to be the one policing others. What you say is what you say; just don’t be offended if I choose not to be around you based on the words you choose to use.

The war of words shouldn’t have to start with organizations policing others as much as it should start with us individually.


Univ. of Utah
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KoS & SN Podcast co-host & self-proclaimed funniest man in Utah. Mormon by faith, Ute by geography, Gooner by accident & proud RSLer. Father of 4, husband of 1, brother of many. Bilingual by day, quasi superhero en la noche. There's only one "Fuegote".