A Tale of Two Cities

I'm making a list today.

It's a list of all the soccer writers, bloggers and assorted keyboard jockeys all across the fruited plain who pounded out long, self-righteous articles a couple months back when there were a couple unfortunate incidents in Crew Stadium.

Steve Ralston got drowned in streamers while attempting a corner kick, some foul mouthed fool (who's never been back) used an ignorant word and 10,000 bloggers, "journalists" and message board warriors had a field day decrying the state of soccer hooliganism and depravity demonstrated in Columbus, Ohio.

A few weeks later, half a dozen West Ham hoolie wannabes marched ten rows deep into the Crew Supporters section and started pouring beer on people.

Stadium security, reacting a little slowly, finally managed to wrestle these clowns back up the way they came, but once again the entirety of the American soccer blogosphere was aflame for weeks over the shocking goings-on, managing in the process to blame the Crew fans for it all, although I still haven't figured that one out.

Well fine. Hey, if someone understands the desperate need to come up with a topic to write about, it's me. I'm really worried that this winter I'll be reduced to doing "Greatest Soccer Movies of All Time, Part XXXVI" and "Separated at Birth" items so I can appreciate why all these keyboard humpers jumped on these incidents like horny dogs.

Even when, frankly, very little if any of what these guys wrote included disclaimers about how relatively few fans were actually involved and how 99& of the fanbase was as upset about what went on as anyone.

That sort of stuff - some would call it honesty - doesn't make good copy in the middle of self-righteous 1500 word screeds delivered from the heights of moral superiority.

Well, fine. Like I said, that's how it goes.

I'd surely have liked to see just one of these guys write a followup column about how the supporters groups and team management, in cooperation with the security contractor and the police, hammered out some rules, developed some procedures, did a good deal of self-examination and how that partnership has now become a really positive self-policing initiative which has worked splendidly to the benefit of the team, the city and the league.

All of which brings me to Saturday afternoon in Toronto.

Now of course TFC, unlike the much-maligned Crew front office, has made no attempt whatever to curtail the practice of throwing streamers and other objects at players taking corner kicks.

Evidently, that's an important part of the "wonderful atmosphere" that our dear Commissioner keeps telling us about.

On Saturday, it reached it's logical conclusion.

Robbie Rogers was hit (I'm taking all details, every one, from statements made by TFC fans who were in attendance) by at least four cups of beer, handfuls of coins and beer bottles.

Unlike the aforementioned Mr Ralston, who backed away and whined about being hit by four ounces of crepe paper, Rogers stood in and tried to take the kicks, but couldn't.

Reportedly (again, this is from a TFC fan who was right in front) someone even pulled up a large piece of metal from the bleacher floor and threw that at Rogers.

Eventually the referee signaled a stoppage of play, and ordered Rogers out of the corner as Dave Dichio and even Carlos Ruiz came over and tried to clear away some of the debris, with Dichio clearly angry and yelling at the perpetrators, most of whom seemed to feel this was what they came for.

Stray beer bottles and capped cups of beer (apparently beer is extremely cheap in BEEMO) continued to fly at Crew players, one narrowly missing a player's head.

And through all of this, BEEMO security stood by and did virtually nothing at all.

After the game ended and the beer-soaked Crew players left the field, the 150 or so Crew fans in attendance were escorted out to their bus.

A large crowd of TFC fans were waiting for them - Toronto fans are blaming security for not "holding" the Crew fans until the mob had disbursed; I myself would like to know why the hell there WAS a mob - and the security escort was quickly overwhelmed.

A police emergency was called and an exciting convoy of ten or twelve police cars, lights and sirens, screamed into the stadium lots and started macing and arresting TFC fans who were having a wonderful time and, judging by their comments today, are pretty darn pleased with themselves.

There was a delightful video on youtube put there yesterday by a TFC fan who was ever-so-proud of it, but he's apparently thought better of it and it's now accessible only by his "friends" an honor which I am proud to say I do not hold.

If anyone can give the rest of us access I'd be grateful but I think at this point the Torontoites have figured out that pictures of drunks being wrestled to the ground and pepper sprayed by cops in riot gear isn't the kind of publicity their "great, great fans" actually want.

Now I'm not here to do what most TFC fans, and a whole bunch of other people, did a couple months ago, ie. paint all TFC fans with the same brush. You still see occasional references from various bottom dwellers to "the racist Crew fans" but you won't see me responding in kind.

For much as I dump on Toronto, most of their fans are in fact absolutely appalled by what happened yesterday, and judging by their comments (with some exceptions) they are even more upset about the incidents as the Crew fans (who got to celebrate with the team afterwards and drink from the Trillium Cup, which the guys locked up in Toronto's jail didn't get to share in)

Rather, all I'm going to addd is this:

I'm going to be paying very close attention this week to all the various and sundry soccer writers who, in their multitudes, droned on endlessly about the "problems in Columbus" and see whether the - much worse - incidents in Toronto on Saturday get the same editorial treatment.

If they don't, well, then I'm planning on naming some names and asking some questions.

As for Commissioner Garber, who couldn't wait to condemn Columbus fans and order a crackdown which caused more problems than it solved - and almost caused a boycott by Hispanic fans when stadium security wrestled a woman to the ground and put her in a headlock for holding an umbrella - I'm anxiously awaiting his comments.

Over to you, Don.

* On a more personal note:

There are currently many, many comments up on various TFC fanboards talking about how there was a young female Columbus fan who was crying.

Typical of the comments are: "Man, seeing that girl crying - that was frikkin hilarious" and "that crying girl just made the whole day for me"

(For the record, you big bad hoolie wannabes, she was upset because her little brother, in a Crew jersey, was lost back in the stadium, on the other side of a howling mob of drunks who think assaulting those weaker than them "frikkin hilarious")

Now friends, over the years I've said some harsh things about stuff that has gone on with Fire fans and DC fans and Crew fans in various post game parking lots.

But I have to say that when those teams more aggressive fans go after someone, they stick to men. Most humans with actual manparts don't crow and beat their chests and brag about frightening women.

It's unfortunate that that is not the prevailing attitude in Canada.