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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Toronto FC streamers

Okay, this being an all-about-soccer website I just couldn't keep my mouth shut about this. Apparently, recent comments from ESPN's Michael Wilbon on the streamers thrown by fans in the TFC-NYRB game in which he thoroughly trashed the MLS for allowing such behavior raised more than one eyebrow in the MLS community. None other than commissioner Don Garber refuted Wilbon's comments in his blog on the MLS website and divulged his position on this type of occurrence is a unique phenomenon of the sport and one that is repeated all over the world. He also says that it's "one of our points of difference and part of what will drive our future success. There are plenty of sports leagues in the U.S. and we are not trying to offer the same in-stadium experience. We need to embrace the passion and electricity that makes soccer the world's most popular sport."
Steve Goff updated on the interchange with Wilbon's rebuttal: "Having said that, ANYTHING that interferes with the actual competition is bad. It's just awful. DON'T UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES screw around with the competition. That's not to be interactive, it's not to be influenced by anything and anybody that's not in a uniform or striped jersey on the field. Nothing and nobody is going to change my opinion on that. Ever."
I must say I agree with Goff and Garber and most other true soccer fans out there. Streamers and raucous fans running up and down the bleachers is part of the spectacle of the beautiful game. It is still present in some of the more highly regarded leagues in the world: Argentina, Mexico, Italy, etc. I haven't seen many streamers in the EPL but hooliganism in the late 80s was partly to blame for a much more subdued game-time experience that we see today (compared to the streamers, flares and confetti in South American leagues). There is always a question of safety but as one that has experienced full-fledged soccer in a South American venue, you choose where you sit and typically if you choose to sit in raucous areas you tend to be a raucous fan. To each his own. I was happy in my confy seat next to ardent fans that shouted and booed without using more physically-involved demonstrations. I paid more, yes. But that's why there are supporter's groups and sections in the stadiums.
I'm including video of a typical futbol game in Argentina with the beloved Xeneizes. Atmosphere, people. Boca brings it. TFC has it. Let's have fun with it. In all my years going to sports events I never saw a more dedicated group of fans than those in a Ecuador clasico: Barcelona - Emelec. Not even the [american] football match between Florida and LSU could match it ...just as loud, yes.... but where's the pyrotechnics?
I love my futbol. Bring on the streamers.

1 comment:

Alastair McCandless said...

Streamers seem fine, but flares perhaps a bit dangerous. Fire and fields are bad - google disco demolition night if you want an example of how.