EDIT - you should always read the comments. This is the only site on the entire Internet where you should. But you should really read these, specifically Mr. Archer, who has done some actual journalism or something here EDIT EDIT - update below, regarding Shawn Wheeler's comment screenshot.
Let's try to piece this together, shall we? Yesterday morning, MLS sent out its link aggregation to its fellow travellers. The headline was "Seattle fans tasked with leading USMNT supporters in Columbus and beyond:"
CONTROVERSY SPARKED AS U.S. PLANS TO SEATTLE-IZE COLUMBUS
The upcoming USMNT qualifier against Mexico is a sell-out, with upwards of 9,000 supporters expected at Crew Stadium on September 10. As usual, US Soccer is working with the American Outlaws supporter group, but in a break from the past, they have charged the AO Seattle chapter to coordinate the matchday support. That's not only for the Mexico clash, but also all future US matches. While the move was agreed to by both Seattle and Columbus chapters, some in Columbus are unhappy with the decision. Not that this guy cares.
For those of you too goddamned lazy to click links, do it anyway, because otherwise I'd pretty much have to copy and paste Keith Hickey's whole article, and that's not groovy. Here's the money line, anyway:
Leaders from the Seattle chapter will reportedly be in charge of organizing the songs and chants in the official USA supporters section, and their expenses will be covered by U.S. Soccer.
I have no idea why the official or the group involved quoted was left unnamed. However, this report has been corroborated a number of places, not least by Matt Goshert, whose link was sent to the wide world by Major League Soccer. Here are the big lines, because I have to do everything around here:
After witnessing the disorganized crowd support for the U.S. Men's National Team match in Salt Lake City, American Outlaws leadership and the Seattle chapter collaborated and decided to use Seattle-based capos for every USMNT match no matter what city it's being played in. This was the reason American Outlaws Seattle was on the call.
American Outlaws and U.S. Soccer want to create a standardized atmosphere with capos from Seattle leading at every USMNT match. They will work to incorporate local songs and have local capos assist, but want to make sure that there is a consistent level of product at each match and turned to American Outlaws Seattle to provide that.
A little background which would have been helpful for non-Columbians: Crew games and US games in Columbus haven't previously used capos. So this is a New Thing all around from the Ohio point of view.
And to complete the link explanations. "This guy" mentioned in the MLS email is BigSoccer Featured Alumnus Aaron Stollar, whose pleas for calm were, to the shock of none, completely ignored. And no wonder:
That said, if cbus wants to ignore these tips and do things their own way, I'm fucking excited that Seattle will host the USA-Mexico WCQ in 2017.
Repeated requests to Mr. Wheeler to explain the provenance of this line have been ostentatiously ignored. For those of you who don't wish to brave the White Zone that is my Twitter feed, Crew fans have dated this as a Facebook troll from early July, before this all was announced.
All the more reason why this shouldn't have been announced, in my opinion. For the same reason I shouldn't be put in charge of running the chants for the 1906 Ultras. "I don't think you should have a qualifier. Let me help you with your qualifier" - or worse, "I'm now in charge of your qualifier" - aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but the reaction from the locals was never going to be "Thank God you've come!"
At this point, we have US Soccer paying for the American Outlaws to impose a structure onto US fans - not just anywhere, but in Ciudad de Dos a Cero, and not just for any game, but for Mextoberfest. Even Lee Greenwood was thinking about giving up his citizenship at this point. Your fellow posters have put in their opinions here.
So the American Outlaws, by now on the receiving end of, and pardon both my obscenity and my lame recent pop culture reference, Shitnado, drafted a response.
Reports published at a handful of soccer websites on The American Outlaws plans for the USA vs Mexico World Cup Qualifer in Columbus are incorrect.
Neither the American Outlaws or the US Soccer Federation are paying for any capo to fly to this game or any future game. The tifo at this crucial qualifier will be organized and run by AO Columbus and local supporters.
AO Seattle is not being tasked to take over the in-stadium experience for this or any future USMNT games outside Seattle. A Seattle takeover of tifo and singing at all USMNT games has never been the plan or intention and any reports of such are false.
Also mentioned was the necessity to import capos, because - again, for some reason this wasn't made clear by anyone - the locals don't use them. (Which to me makes this oft-cited independent rebuttal by a volunteer capo sorta beside the point, but that hasn't prevented it from also being cited as revealed gospel.)
The American Outlaws statement was quickly endorsed by the USSF, to clarify "inaccurate reports." Paul Kennedy at Soccer America and Major League Soccer Soccer staff weighed in, with MLS, almost inexcusably, concluding the matter to be "a whole lot of nothing." Me, I was relieved that AO, Kennedy and MLS were so quick to settle who would be in charge of tifo...an issue which hadn't actually been raised.
Keith Hickey and Goal.com haven't yet responded to the Federation calling their journalism inaccurate. Massive Report has focused on defending the local way of doing things, which is one of the valid issues here, but far from the only one.
I disagree with Aaron and MLS - this is a troubling issue. Although it would be funny if I used thirty paragraphs and fifteen links to set up "Nothing to see here, folks!"
There's the journalistic angle, of course. American Outlaws and the USSF are calling Keith Hickey a liar - I don't see any other way to spin that. The Fed paying the way for any fan, whether or not a member of their official fan club, is a very serious charge. If Hickey's source lied, he should burn him or her at the stake. If said source was correct, then AO and the USSF are engaging in some terrible professional character assassination. Oh, and by the way, changing their minds after publication of the article, then calling that article inaccurate, is not the Done Thing. Just in case that's what happened.
The presence of the USSF in this whole thing is something I find problematic, to say the least. There is absolutely no question the Federation has the right to interfere, even with unofficial supporters groups. It is their event, after all. I just have trouble finishing a sentence that starts out "The United States Soccer Federation should take a leading role in American Outlaws activities because", just like I have trouble finishing sentences that start "Columbus needs help with Mexico qualifiers for the first time because", "Standardized US support is desirable because", "Seattle's non-sellout qualifier trumps all others because", "Telling grown adults what and how to cheer is helpful because" and "Capos are so crucial that it's worth ticking off the locals because".
Let's do talk about capos - I was fiercely opposed to them in my own supporters group, back when I had a stake, and lost that argument. Capos are now doing very well in both ends of the Stubby Center, and I admit I was wrong. Part of that - and I'm spitballing here - is that the capos themselves aren't flown in from thousands of miles away, but are respected and admired (well, give or take) members of the supporters group in good standing.
It's also a tougher job than it looks. Capoing - and I care so little if that's a real word that I can't be bothered to look it up - is prevalent in college sports, at least at the colleges I went to. The very best I had ever seen was in front of the UCLA alumni - who really needed the jazzing up. Columbus fans have never struck me as a particularly shy and self-effacing lot, though. And if the capo isn't up to the task - something which a nationwide volunteer search isn't exactly avoiding the risk of - it's going to be a miserable experience for all involved. Since Columbus fans haven't got a record of screwing up before now, and since this isn't what you'd call a minor game, I believe this isn't the time or place for So You Think You Can Capo.
Also, if the capos fail, American Outlaws can blame Columbus. If Columbus has a positive atmosphere with a positive result - I know, what are the odds - Seattle can take credit. Columbus fans shouldn't be used either as guinea pigs or props to puff up a different market.
I seem to be in the minority, because as we've seen, what AO has said has proven good enough for Soccer America, MLS, and of course the USSF. I disagree. American Outlaws needs to trust its members, and the USSF should focus on its own fan club.
EDIT EDIT - Should I have been more patient? Oh, well. Shawn Wheeler explains and apologizes:
The infamous FB comment is from a thread in late June, after the match in SLC on a FB Group called "American Outlaws Supporter Section". The thread addressed the difference in support between Seattle and SLC, asking the question what can we (AO) do to ensure the success of Seattle carries forward to all matches. This enraged many folks from around the country, who barraged Seattle and turned it into a negative spin about the game we hosted. The first paragraph of my response was to address the original question, and an offer to help AO with their stated desire. The 2nd paragraph was a stupid comment said in anger in response to the other posts which belittled what we did in our match. I have said as much many times in various forums, but of course that is no fun for anyone to share so it doesn't help. ....a bad thing will go viral but a response never will.
Well, here's the response. Let's see if it goes viral.