Enough is Enough

When I first agreed to start doing this blogging thing for BigSoccer, the management gave me no portfolio. I could write about whatever I wanted and I could say whatever I liked.

It was my own choice not to write a Crew-centric blog and I've tried to keep the stuff I write about in the "general interest" category as opposed to the "Crew fan on a rant" genre.

Thus, when the whole kerfuffle erupted earlier this season about some yahoo yelling a very mean thing at a Revs player who didn't hear him, I pretty much stayed out of it.

A lot of people said a lot of really stupid things and it was pointless to go around endlessly repeating some form of "but it was just one guy and most black players will tell you they've heard the same or worse in every stadium in the league" because nobody would listen and, more to the point here, everyone would say "Oh, you're just a Crew fan anyway"

So I didn't address the subject here and, thankfully, a completely disreputable website operated by lying whores managed to push the whole topic into the realm of parody with Photoshopped "evidence" and obvious lies and made everyone realize how dumb it all was.

Except in Columbus, where management decided that the real problem was not some drunken dirtbag, but rather - incredibly - streamers, and made it their corporate mission to eradicate the deadly scourge of tissue paper from the face of the Earth.

Which brings us to last night.

The InterWeb is abuzz this morning about the "riot" which occurred last night in Crew stadium. The AP moved a story late last night that is being picked up all over the place as various media outlets seize on the opportunity to confirm their own anti-soccer biases.

And it's because of this, because as a Crew fan with a modest platform on this page I feel like I have an obligation to discuss what happened, that I'm breaking my own rule.

When Crew management decided they had to do something about all this "assault with a deadly children's party decoration" the simpletons running the show on Velma Avenue decided the best way to handle it was a show of force.

So they arranged for Rent-A-Mentally-Defective-Goon "security" contractor CSC to surround the Nordecke with a couple dozen glowering, threatening looking clowns who spend the game standing there, arms folded, waiting to pounce on any miscreants.

They also have "undercover agents" sprinkled about the section, usually in clever disguises which they believe will make them indistinguishable from the Crew's most rabid supporters, like the guy who wears a four year old #7 US Soccer jersey that says "Beasley" across the back.

Really fooling everybody with that one, slick. Blends right in with the sea of black and yellow.

Last night, for the game against West Ham, they went the extra mile: a guy in the rafters of the stage hiding behind a structural support beam with a pair of binoculars who spent the entire match scanning the section for evildoers.

So in the first half, when a member of La Turbina, the Hispanic Crew Supporters, had the audacity to actually have an umbrella in his hand, an alert agent of CSC plowed into the section, got this monster in a headlock and dragged him out of the building.

When one fan remarked that this Gestapo agent was being an "asshole", HE was grappled to the floor and dragged from the building.

(In fairness, someone from the Crew F.O. got both guys released from the clutches of the goon squad, bought them beers and apologized.)

Nothing escapes these guys. They have a mission, which is to intimidate Crew supporters, and they love their work.

In fact, they are so focused on their work that when a group of 15-20 West Ham "fans" left their section in the southeast corner en masse and proceeded along the concourse towards the Nordecke, the "security police" were too busy staring down Crew fans to notice.

When this group, loud and drunk, turned down the aisle and headed down into the middle of the mob of Crew supporters, the CSC guardians of peace were too busy looking for streamers to notice.

When this loud, chanting group of claret and blue clad drunks made it TEN ROWS into the supporters section and the "leader" - a large, completely hammered drunk covered with tattoos - began abusing the nearest Crew fans, the ever-alert stadium security was carefully scanning the crowd for any telltale signs of streamers.

And when the same guy then poured a beer on a couple of Crew fans and started taking swings at people, the security professionals from CSC bravely held their ground in case someone pulled out some colored tissue paper.

But then, when some Crew fans started fighting back, the yellow shirted elite plowed into the crowd and started dragging Crew fans out of the place.

Thankfully, order was restored before too many streamers flew.

A couple of points here:

First, the "West Ham" fans were, as near as anyone could tell, 100% American. There certainly were English fans in the stadium, a goodly number of them, but the guys who went looking for a fight were All-American wannabes.

Secondly, there were the requisite number of post-match parking lot woof matches, and it's as hard to sort out as it usually is when that stuff happens everywhere else.

Third, a question:

I love my friends in DC. Truly. As lovable a bunch of mugs as you'll find anywhere.

But tell me: what is the life expectancy of a group of obnoxious drunks who go wading into, say, Barra Brava throwing beer and punches?

Wouldn't you want to make sure that your dental plan was paid up before you jumped into Section 8 in Chicago and began hitting people?

I could go around the league and, frankly, I bet even the Mormons would take offense at you, possibly throwing long underwear or spare wives at you. I don't know.

But here's the thing: I'd be surprised if it happened.

Because as lame as most stadium security is, and as outnumbered as they always are, they understand that their key mission is to keep opposing fan groups apart.

In most MLS stadiums, they would intercept you BEFORE a large mob of opposing fans got ten rows into the supporters section.

(Which leaves aside the point that you'd be very unlikely to make it TWO rows into some supporter's sections before you needed an ambulance)

So why did this happen in Crew Stadium, with security doubled and as many as 20 CSC employees standing in a cordon around the Nordecke?

Simple: the Crew FO told them their job was to stop streamers. They were not looking for, and reacted very slowly to, an actual security incident, the type of thing they are normally there to prevent.

This black eye for MLS and soccer in general need not have happened. It would be unlikely to have happened anywhere else in the league.

But in this case Crew management MADE this happen by telling their security contractor that their job was to come down hard on Crew fans, and neglected to mention that maybe there were a couple other things they might want to look out for.

Hunt Sports needs to do some serious soul searching today, and at some point, when Crew VP Mark McCullers is on the phone to New York, someone really needs to point out that maybe stadium security involves something more than hiring some giuys with shaved heads to try and scare your customers.

It's time - past time - for MLS to wake up and stop passing stadium issues off on CSC. Their behavior in other places, like New York, is nothing short of scandalous and the league has tolerated it for years.

DC United learned the lesson a couple years ago, got CSC the hell out of there and they have had very few problems since.

They are cheap $10 an hour headbreakers and guys who can't hold down real jobs. It's past time MLS got serious and stopped treating their fans like the crowd at Ozzfest.