National Soccer Supporters Union

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by bright, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. bright

    bright Member

    Dec 28, 2000
    Central District
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I have not historically created threads on the News and Analysis board, so forgive me if this is not the appropriate place for this thread. I gave it some thought, and I figured that this thread would be worthy of analysis from some of the deeper thinkers.

    What is the current state of nationwide solidarity among the fan groups?

    I think it is awesome that there are many passionate cheering groups (not going to name names since there are so many). There is a lot of blood, sweat, and money that goes into creating the pageantry and atmosphere at games. Without these groups, soccer would not be as fun to participate in as a fan.

    We also have a couple great fan advocacy groups such as SSV in San Jose and HASF in Kansas City, but these seem to be the only ones. I know they both stemmed from efforts to keep their teams in their cities, but ultimately they give the fans a voice at the table with the big boys. This is a very important asset to those communities, and I think this type of asset would be very helpful at the national level, too.

    I believe something like is the next step toward building a solid foundation for the sport in this country. Many of us always have the fear in the back of our heads or in the pits of our stomachs of soccer being taken away from us again, because we are not able to influence things on the larger scale. We leave it up to others to make our decisions for us. We should take the opportunity now while we have something to rally around to organize ourselves. Soccer is built on top of the fans. Without us, businesses would not invest in the sport. By uniting, we can help guarantee that our sport will always be an attractive and lucrative business (by showing that we have the numbers to support it) and also safeguard the sport against exploitation. There is no reason why we have to take whatever it given to us. We can contribute to what we get, as well.

    How could something like this come about? Would there be enough buy-in from fans of every team? Is it possible for the fans to work together for the betterment of soccer in this country under a unified banner? Will fans put aside the theatrical rivalries in order to cooperate on important issues? Do we have people in each city who can act as leaders? What is the current state of the group that handles the Supporters Shield? Can this group morph into something with more political muscle? Would it be possible for fans to also put aside their respective league allegiances and work for the betterment of the sport as a whole?

    Logistically, I am not sure how such an organization would work. How would initiatives be drafted? Would every member get a vote? Would representatives need to be elected? How would money be raised, if needed?

    There are some influential soccer people who may be drawn to something like this, people who have worked in various capacities in the soccer world: front office, player, media, broadcasting, etc.

    - Paul
     
  2. Flyin Ryan

    Flyin Ryan Member

    May 13, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
  3. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    Club:
    DC United
    I spent several years trying to get this together.... it won't happen for a variety of reasons. I'll see if I can find the post where I listed all of them.

    Edit: Here it is. It's USMNT-centric, but all of the issues apply to a fan union among MLS fans.

    https://www.bigsoccer.com/forum/showpost.php?p=5239337&postcount=29

    If you have a question, I'm willing to answer it. I've done it before and I won't do it again.

    Sachin
     
  4. Onionsack

    Onionsack BigSoccer Yellow Card

    Jul 21, 2003
    New York City
    Club:
    FC Girondins de Bordeaux
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Its a struggle and a pain just to organize at the club level. The probelm is we are the vast minority of MLS support, we are the most vocal, outspoken, and knowledgable...but we are quite small in number at the club side of things. Out of 15000 fans at a MLS match about 5-10% at most are "supporter" caliber fans. The rest are more youth soccer fanaticos and your general run of the mill soccer fan looking for something to do on a saturday night.



    I like the idea but unfortunalty this isnt a perfect world and the challeges are pretty difficult.

    Oh, and the USSF youth soccer bureaucrat comment couldn't be more spot on.
     
  5. bright

    bright Member

    Dec 28, 2000
    Central District
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Well, those efforts seemed to be related more to in-stadium support and organized behavior. I can see how rival supporters would not be willing to cooperate during USMNT matches. It's hard enough herding sheep, try herding people. :)

    I am talking about behind-the-scenes stuff. White-collar-style advocacy for the fans. Kind of like what SSV and HASF are doing right now. That kind of advocacy can broaden into areas beyond keeping teams from leaving their communities. Certainly in-stadium theatrics could be part of the stable of potential issues, but the stable is bigger than that. The main thing, I think, is that the fans have a voice. As the future unfolds, then we will be presented with issues to deal with. I would rather be prepared and organized than wishing we had a voice to represent us.

    - Paul
     
  6. chapulincolorado

    Jul 14, 1999
    McAllen, Texas
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    Mexico
    First off....."unions" in current American aren't the most popular of notions or ideas. In a country that prides itself in individualism, the idea of "group action" or "union" may not be seen favorable in a number of MLS fans.

    That aside, as far as the "behind-the-scenes stuff", what is our leverage? what would this union do? what would it be its mission? If you can explain to another MLS what the NSSU would do in a short mission statement, then you got a start. At a certain point, don't worry about small %. A small percentage fans that are well organized and follow-through will have more impact than a larger disorganized group. To put it more bluntly, that's why a group of 10 policemen can control a rowdy disorganized group of 100.

    BTW, here is the motto for the possible group:
    "United!, for the love of the sport."

    :D
     
  7. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The best chance of getting something going might be to take advantage of each year's Supporter's Summit.

    Right now, participation at the Summit is somewhat sketchy, with some clubs represented quite well, and others having no one showing up.

    I'd like to see MLS sponsor a focus group at each year's MLS Cup, with each team sending 1 delegate to the focus group.

    To attract delegates, the host team could provide a complementary ticket to the Cup to each of the 12 participants, as well as an invitation to the Awards Ceremony, and a working lunch hosted by an MLS executive where issues of import to fans could be discussed (playoff structure, marketing, merchandising, etc).
     
  8. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    Club:
    DC United
    What areas of advocacy do you needing a national solution? Personally, I don't really care that San Jose lost their team or that KC could lose theirs while Houston and say, Tulsa, get teams. Now if DC United were to leave, I would be upset, but I wouldn't expect fans in Los Angeles or Dallas to care one bit. Besides teams moving, what other issues need national handling as opposed to local handling?

    Sachin
     
  9. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    Club:
    DC United
    How would fans have any sort of meaningful input on these issues?

    Sachin
     
  10. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Hey, I'm no marketing-type, but don't organizations still use focus groups to gain feedback?

    You know, listen to what they're customers like about the product, what they dislike, and what suggestions they might have?

    Plus MLS could use the focus group to bounce new ideas off of the fans. Before launching into, say, the next new and improved playoff system, they could see what hardcore fans from around the country have to say about their proposal.
     
  11. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    Club:
    DC United
    I am a marketing-type, or was, until I decided to focus on writing.

    Do you remember that episode of the Simpson where Homer discovers a long-lost brother who owns a car company? He hires Homer to help design a car on the basis that Homer is the average American male. Needless to say, the car flops and Homer's brother loses his company and his fortune.

    MLS focus grouping your definition of hardcore fans (at best 1-2% of any team's fan base) would be going down the same path. Hardcore fans, even at the broadest definition of any fan with a season ticket, aren't a representative sample of the overall fanbase.

    I know we like to think that we're important to MLS, but except for a few groups, we're not. Even in DC, the city with the most organized fan base, we're lucky to hit 5% of the attendence on an average night.

    Sachin
     
  12. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    An entire group of fans, who are pretty much just like you, lose their team, and you don't care. That's why any type of fan unity movement won't work.

    If two fans from different cities can't agree that each of the other should continue to have a team to support, what can they agree on?
     
  13. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    True. But there's no reason why we can't take steps to make them more important to the league.

    An active and passionate supporter's section can add a lot to the game experience, and help distinguish MLS from the other pro leagues. Besides helping to enliven TV broadcasts, a lively supporter's section can create an exciting atmosphere at a match that helps make games fun to attend and hopefully increases the percentage of returning fans.

    As a longtime fan of Dallas, for instance, it would be nice to have the chance to sit down with delegates from DC and Chicago to find out things they've done to make those supporter's sections relatively successful.

    And as I posted earlier, I think a delegation of fans from around the league would give MLS some useful feedback on what they like and dislike about various issues -- TV broadcasts, playoff issues, merchandizing, etc.
     
  14. Earthshaker

    Earthshaker BigSoccer Supporter

    Sep 12, 2005
    The hills above town
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Certainly. A couple of weeks ago the Earthquakes asked for 30 fans to become part of a focus group to be held at the team's offices in January. I volunteered, but, they haven't got back to me on that . :confused:
     
  15. Flyin Ryan

    Flyin Ryan Member

    May 13, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    ^^

    I think what you're talking about is a good idea, although I wouldn't necessarily call it a union, more just a loose coalition of similar entities that can help each other out maybe, like a trade federation.
     
  16. bright

    bright Member

    Dec 28, 2000
    Central District
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    First of all, I didn't mean to allude to the labor union movement by using the word "union" in the title of my post. I was using it in its denotative sense as I think it describes the spirit of what I am talking about.

    As far as issues that this group would address: well, I of course have my own pet issues, but I don't want to taint the concept of a unified group by superimposing my pet issues onto it. However, I believe that the things that Rocket brought up would be perfect candidates. A group could certainly form a long-term agenda such as banning the shootout (oh, that already happened. good job, guys! :)) I think that a group would also be beneficial to respond to ad hoc issues such as the San Jose move.

    I don't think it is important to list issues, though. What is important is that a sentiment for a unified voice exists. It is true that if Sachin's sentiment reflects that of the majority of fans, then something like this wouldn't fly. Guaging that sentiment was part of the purpose of this thread.

    Logistically, it could start with groups like SSV and HASF forming the core. From there, they could recruit from the fan leaders in other communities. Getting important and influential people to talk and work together is better than what we have now. They can flesh out a lot of the details that we would struggle with in this thread. SSV and HASF may be too busy to organize things nationally and would only be willing to form cogs at this point. Are there any respected leaders out there who are plugged into the national scene that could take the reigns and run with it?

    As far as leverage, I'd like to think that being a representative of the fans is leverage in and of itself. The group could maintain a membership list to prove that their representation is real, and they could work to build their membership base.

    - Paul
     
  17. The Cadaver

    The Cadaver It's very quiet here.

    Oct 24, 2000
    La Cañada, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    No. In any successful organization it is the issues that "unify" the group and galvanize them to action. Absent any common-to-all issues, the group is rudderless and pointless. No common issues = no supporters' union.
     
  18. cosmojado

    cosmojado Member

    Oct 18, 2002
    in sin
    half of you think the other half have the stupidest ideas in the world and vice-versa

    do we really need a union that sounds as childish and petty as BS?

    do your talking with your wallet
    and learn not to take every soccer related bit of bait that MLS tosses out to you
     
  19. Earthshaker

    Earthshaker BigSoccer Supporter

    Sep 12, 2005
    The hills above town
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
     
  20. BBBulldog

    BBBulldog Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 25, 2004
    Dinamo Zagreb
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    Croatia
    if you need someone holding your hand I hear there are bunch of guys at Metro games that would love to do it :D
     
  21. Bonji

    Bonji Moderator

    Feb 4, 2003
    Denver, Colorado
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Start small. Create a website where each of the groups can post their information. I don't see this as some sort of thing where the fans try to influence the soccer world but you never know what something will grow into.
     
  22. Flyin Ryan

    Flyin Ryan Member

    May 13, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Well, they illegally invaded a planet, captured the defense forces, and still didn't get convicted or go to jail afterwards. They're good role models for supporters' groups. :D
     
  23. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Chicago
    Club:
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Hey, I think my supporter's delegation at MLS Cup is a good idea.

    MLS could get input from fan representative(s) from each club, and in turn we would have a chance to share ideas on what works and what doesn't work at our supporter's groups.

    Plus we might be able to snag a freebie or two from MLS. :)
     
  24. ojsgillt

    ojsgillt Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Lee's Summit MO
    They would more likely gather input from 12 people. DC united fan A may not have the same issues as DC United Fans B-F.

    If MLS wants to see what the issues are with the supporters and fans around the leauge then all they need to do is log onto bigsoccer. There are more than enough opinions running around here to draw conclusions from.
     
  25. chapulincolorado

    Jul 14, 1999
    McAllen, Texas
    Club:
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    Mexico
    In the end....an organization starts with you. As that old cliche goes, raise the flag and see who salutes. Think about the mission for the org. Set up an email group and web page. Get volunteers. Membership fees and benefits. Yada, yada, yada. If its attractive to folks and wana be part of it, they will come.
     

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