COMMENTARY | Happy start to Supporters Week, Real Salt Lake fans.
Major League Soccer has actively been looking to eliminate the polarizing and controversial "You suck, a------" chant from venues in the United States and Canada for several years. Franchises such as the Portland Timbers have been successful in exchanging "YSA" with other acceptable PG chants. Teams like Real Salt Lake and New York Red Bulls cannot make such a boast. On Monday night, RSL fans were notified by the club that bad times could be a'comin' if the situation isn't dealt with ASAP.
The Section 26 Salt Lake supporters club posted a letter on their official Facebook page late Monday night ET that had been sent out by the team. This letter addresses the fact that the team's supporters groups have not done well enough to ensure that "YSA" chants do not occur during MLS contests that take place at Rio Tinto Stadium (home of RSL), and thus those clubs are now somewhat under probation. In short, the supporters groups have roughly one month to do whatever they can to erase "YSA" from their cultures, otherwise they could face the following sanctions:
No smoke devices, flags, banners, etc. at home or away matches.
Loss of parking/field passes and stadium credentials
Loss of drums, megaphones and Capo Stand in the supporters end
This is hardly the first time that MLS supporters have been warned about the use of "YSA" and other vulgar chants. Back in 2011, some New England Revolution fans were arrested and even fined due, in part, to those three words that are not to be said in order during MLS matches. The three recognized New York Red Bulls supporters groups were also put on notice about the issue in March 2012. None of those groups have, as far as I am aware, ever been officially punished by either the league or RBNY merely because of "YSA."
RSL's official Twitter page did not post the official letter on Monday evening. Rather, that account responded to and RT'd messages that addressed the topic, such as these:
" I would like to think that MLS is aware enough to know that many teams SGs are already anti-YSA..." - @ JeremiahOshan
For what it's worth, this is an issue that was first tackled by US Soccer. US supporters group the American Outlaws mention YSA specifically in this statement that's found on their official website: "We don't want hooliganism to be a part of American Soccer. Throwing things onto the field or lighting off incendiary devices isn't allowed. US Soccer gets fined by FIFA, or worse, your USMNT could lose 3 points in qualifying. The more USSF gets fined, the higher the ticket prices! It has happened.
Please be thoughtful in your CHANTS, and use classy and appropriate language. (so… no profanity in chants, that includes you "YSA" Chant)."
As was explained to me back in March 2012, MLS wanted to be completely rid of "YSA" and similar chants, at the absolute latest, before the end of the 2013 postseason. The league's television deal with NBC expires at the conclusion of the 2014 campaign. I cannot confirm that the two are at all related.
What I find most interesting about "YSA," other than the fact that it's more unoriginal and childish than it is in any way actually offensive, is that there are far worse songs and chants belted out at MLS games every weekend during the season. In 2013 alone, I've heard chants at matches that referenced pedophilia and ones that included homosexual slurs. Regardless of anybody's opinions on any chants/songs that occur during professional soccer matches, the fact as of the posting of this piece is that attendance for MLS home games is down from one year ago. Games airing on US TV are hardly doing monster numbers at the midway point of the 2013 campaign.
Is now really the time for MLS to hit out at their most diehard and loyal supporters?
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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