Red Bulls Will Pay Fan Clubs Not to Chant "You Suck, Asshole"
In January 2009, 11 Tottenham fans appeared in court for racist chanting at a soccer game, including one ditty that featured the line, "We won't give a f*** if you are hanging from a tree, You are a Judas c*** with HIV." In the years since Manchester United's Robin Van Persie was arrested on a rape charge that was later dropped, opposing fans have serenaded him with a chant that ends with "Van Persie, when the girl says 'no,' molest her." And at a May game in Italy, players on both sides briefly paused play in protest of fans making monkey noises when black players on the visiting team touched the ball.
It's not quite that serious at soccer games here in the States. Here, the collective diss of choice is the cheerful-by-comparison, "You suck, asshole."
The unified shout comes on goal kicks, the crescendo following a rising, anticipatory, college-football-kickoff-style hum. In a way, it's a uniquely American chant--direct and concise, unlike those complex, rhythmic carols that pretty much every other soccer playing nation has mastered.
But Major League Soccer, Major League Soccer officials say, is all about a family environment. And, like their counterparts across the pond, Americans teams have sought to clean up the ballpark language. Naturally, the American soccer scene has seen methods such as "request in a respectfully worded flier handed out at games" and "threaten to ban amenities like parking passes and banners."
The New York Red Bulls, though, have clearly been studying up on their behavioral economics. They've cut straight to the point: the team will pay fans clubs $500 for every "You suck, asshole"-free home game.
A bit dramatic perhaps, skipping over the "strongly worded letter" and jumping straight to the bribery. Real Salt Lake, one of the teams on that "threaten to ban amenities" tip, told Sports Illustrated that it has no plans to start writing checks: as the organization's spokesperson Trey Fitz-Gerald told the magazine, "We're trying to appeal to our fans' sense of class."
But this is New York, baby, where everybody's a hustler and nothing comes free.
The way the payment plan is structured, the team's three fan clubs--the Empire Supporters Club, the Garden State Ultras, and the Viking Army--will get paid in $2,000 chunks. Which means they'll need to get through four "You suck, asshole"-free games before the check is cut.
The Red Bulls have 19 total home games in 2013, including nine more to come. So there's four grand to subsidize the fan clubs' season right there. Just gotta hope some asshole doesn't mess it up for everybody.