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MLS bribe fans to stop "You Suck Asshole" chant

Opinion split among fans

icon mlsnew16 July ~ Children are aware of the tactics used by authority figures to control or modify their behaviour. There's anger, punishment, disapproval or – a solution used by the more desperate – bribery. Yet fully grown MLS supporters have recently been subjected to all these approaches from their league and clubs. MLS commissioner Don Garber is cracking down hard on one of his long-term bugbears – the "You Suck Asshole" shout. And the clubs are trying to persuade their fans to stop the chant using a variety of methods.

Garber has long been fixated on getting rid of this strangely resilient tradition, shouted when the opposing goalkeeper takes a goal-kick. In the past he has described the chant as uncreative, ridiculous, vulgar and sophomoric. But now, with new TV deals already being negotiated for 2014, he really does mean business. While the efforts are league-wide, the biggest campaigns are being waged by Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls.

Supporters' groups at both clubs face the naughty-step treatment, with sanctions threatened if YSA (as it is commonly known in MLS literature) isn't eradicated by the start of August. This includes the banning of smoke devices, drums and banners, as well as halting privileges such as parking permits and discounted tickets.

Real Salt Lake took the parental I'm-just-so-disappointed-in-you high ground. "We're trying to appeal to our fans' sense of class," Salt Lake communications vice-president Trey Fitz-Gerald told Sports Illustrated. "We think we should try to hold ourselves to a higher standard and not use 'YSA'." On the other hand, the Red Bulls have gone straight for bribery – or an incentive programme – offering each of the three supporters' groups $500 (£330) for every game without hearing that particular chant. The payments would be paid in $2,000 bundles, meaning that fans must be on best behaviour for four games in a row.

The Red Bulls have put their supporters' groups in a very difficult situation. Accepting money from the club in exchange for changed behaviour raises accusations of "selling-out" and questions over a group's independence and integrity. But YSA is widely seen as a dated chant that has long run its course, the sanctions are harsh and there's a lot of money on the table. The Empire Supporters Club is the oldest and largest group and they initially appeared receptive to the idea of the payments. Yet Tim Hall, one of the five Empire board members and a Red Bull Arena capo (who orchestrates the supporter section), told me that the group has yet to make a decision on the offer.

Hall, speaking as a fan, showed his frustration with the whole situation and the fuss over a chant that without sustained attention from MLS would have "died out ages ago". He notes that: "One of the questions that keeps popping up is ‘do we really want children hearing this?' Because, you know, kids aren't using words much worse than 'asshole' on the playground to entertain themselves, and they certainly don't hear worse on TV or in movies. That's a popular angle to take when people get offended, jump to the defence of hypothetical children."

As Hall continues, the chant could also provide a language education: "There are parents bringing their kids to Red Bull games who laugh hysterically when their kids participate in YSA. It's a teachable moment: it's OK to use that word here, in that moment, but not at home, not at school and not in front of Grandma."

During the Red Bulls' 4-0 win over Montreal on Saturday the chant was still clearly heard. It's unclear how this is all going to work out. As Hall said: "No one likes to be told what to do, especially when you're out to be entertained. If they offer money or other incentives, and you take them, you run the risk of looking like a sell-out. If they crack down and start throwing people out, they risk alienating people who don't care either way. There's no surefire way for them to go about this, which is why they haven't really tried any method until now."

Of course, one of the major reasons for the crackdown is because of how the MLS "product" will be seen on TV. It would be interesting to hear Garber's thoughts on the NBC network spending $250 million on Premier League rights, a league making huge progress in the US where bad language extends far beyond "asshole" levels. Ed Upright

Comment on 16-07-2013 15:04:11 by imp #818652
imp
"Ridiculous, vulgar and sophomoric". Yes, but what's the downside?
Comment on 17-07-2013 10:39:19 by donedmundo #818876
Fuck me!
Comment on 17-07-2013 13:16:58 by biziclop #818947
Bad language may extend far beyond "asshole" in England but luckily very few of that bad language will be understood in the US.

As the infamous screenshot from the Fox Sports website demonstrates:

static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Media/Pix/p...yne-Rooney-h-005.jpg
Comment on 17-07-2013 16:16:05 by rockford #819039
I assume this is akin to the equally dated and tiresome "Wooooooooooo, You're shit ahhhh" when a Britisih keeper takes a goal kick?
Maybe they should take a leaf out of Orient fans book who years ago subverted this to the "woooooooooh" followed by a "boing" accompanying each header/bounce of the ball following the goal kick. Equally peurile and not unncessarily offensive
Comment on 26-07-2013 18:30:54 by Johnny Bob #821691
Perhaps they should switch to "You fat bastard! Ahhhh!"? That's been in use in England for a long time and would provide a link across the ocean. Or something.

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