Archive for June, 2014

I don’t even know where to begin. Late Thursday evening a “sports journalist”, and I use that phrase lightly on this occasion, had an article published online in The Wall Street Journal. The article is a grotesque personal view of a fan-base using the most amateurish and simplistic of tools, stereotypes. It doesn’t matter what part of the world you are from but it should matter if you are a football supporter. The article should appal you, it should madden you because at its core it diminishes the very strides the various leagues, especially the EPL, are trying to make in capturing an ever-growing American market. It is xenophobic in its tone and condescending at every turn. So let’s break down the article by this HACK. Give it a read and you’ll be astonished by the ignorant nature of this gibberish.

“The Problem With American Soccer Fans”  is the title but in the actual link to the story it reads “Why I Hate American Soccer Fans” – Reading between the lines I come up with — “I don’t like you, I hate you but I DO want you to read my crap.” Hate. Such a strong word and feeling with such little substance contained within to justify it.

“Growing up as a soccer fan in England…”

I understand the need to specify the target audience by the use of “soccer” in the title, but for me the use of it here and many times during the article only accentuates the flaw in the argument. Soccer, although derived from association football and coined by the Brits is a term used in the US by Americans and in Australia where they also have their own version of football. Both are countries where there is a direct conflict with another sport. For an English-born journo to write a scathing review of a fanbase and then use a term that many Brits loathe and is common amongst the fanbase he is deriding is hypocritical at best and leads to one thing; diminished credibility from the very start. He goes on with his introduction that screams “plastic”.

“But lately, I’ve discovered there’s a new scourge on my beloved game that I simply cannot tolerate: Americans.”

Let’s see how many things are wrong with that. A scourge? You mean the same scourge every major football league in the world is trying to capture? Why? This market spends and they spend BIG. Approximately 25 billion USD a year on watching and supporting professional sports. 35 billion a year on sports equipment. 8 billion a year on sports logo apparel. 300 million a year in sports registration for youth players and 900 million more on their equipment and travel.  That “scourge”? The “beautiful game” is for the world, not any one country you putz.

“I don’t begrudge fans here who have only recently awakened to the charms of what the rest of the world has long known as the beautiful game. Welcome to the party! The problem is your soccer obsessives. By my reckoning, they may be the most derivative, excessive and utterly ridiculous collection of sports fans on the planet.”

My takeaway from this is if you are a new supporter or recent lover of the game, he likes you, but still puts you down, “welcome to the party”! Almost undoubtedly because he can partake upon you his infinite wisdom and his “do’s and don’t s”, you can be his little project. No thanks pal, I am allergic to plastic. On the flip side, if you are excessive in your support he doesn’t like you. Likely because you won’t jump on his bandwagon or listen to his inane commentary.

“If you’ve ever stumbled across this tribe as they spill out of a bar on Saturday mornings after 90 minutes spent watching a game contested by two teams based thousands of miles away, you’ll know the sort of fans I’m talking about. They refer to the sport as “fĂștbol,” hold long conversations about the finer points of the 4-4-2 formation and proudly drape team scarves around their necks even when the temperature outside is touching 90 degrees.”

First, any supporter that gets up in the wee hours on the weekend to watch a team from across the planet, spend on merchandise and takes the time to learn the intricacies of the sport gets a thumbs up in my book. Not to this hack. It’s something to be frowned upon. What irks me as well is the way he tries to have a go at the use of the word football here. The spelling he uses is the Castellano version of Spanish. I know many football supporters in the States and unless they are Mexican, Spanish or South American they never pronounce the word that way. This is another attempt at condescension.

“It is this band of soccer junkies who have turned the simple pleasure I used to derive from heading to a bar to watch a game into something more akin to undergoing root canal surgery.”

Simple pleasure? Nothing simple about love, loyalty and support for your team pal. There are very easy solutions to your dilemma though, don’t go to the bar to watch, stay at home or adapt.

“It’s not that they all have the same stories about study-abroad trips to Europe, or that they get wildly excited about the simplest saves, or even, for inexplicable reasons, that 90% of soccer fans in the U.S. seem to root for Arsenal. My biggest gripe is that all of this feels like an elaborate affectation.”

This one takes the cake. You can’t cheer when you want, that’s inexcusable to this idiot. 90% of fans in the US support Arsenal? Really? At last look the two most supported teams in the US where United and Real Madrid, with the likes of Barcelona, Liverpool, and many others right behind, Arsenal among them. But to be so idiotic that he says 90% of all Americans support Arsenal shows the small sample from which he’s making all of these stereotypical points. Then, “…feels like an elaborate affection”, what are you on about here lad? Supporters are supporting, that’s to be applauded, not ridiculed. Maybe you should try to support your team, whoever that might be this year, and leave others be?

Now at this point it is obvious that the writer’s problem is not with US football supporters, it’s with America(ns) in general and he has inexplicably launched himself into one of the most diverse cities in the world, New York. You’ll see what I mean with the next excerpt.

“Instead of watching the game in the time-honoured way of American sports fans—by thrusting a giant foam finger in the air, say, or devouring a large plate of Buffalo wings—your soccer fanatics have taken to aping the behaviour of our fans from across the pond. The scarves thing is an obvious example, but it’s far from the only one. There’s the self-conscious use of terms like “pitch,” “match” and “kit,” the songs lifted directly from English soccer stadiums, and even the appropriation of terrace couture.”

So, go buy a large foam finger, because of course, all ‘mericans do that and while you’re at it, get a huge plate of food and stuff your face Yankees! What an utter disgrace of a person. How the Wall Street Journal allowed this to be associated with them is beyond me. His argument up until now is that the “Americans”, due to his flip-flopping and mixing of cultural annoyances I can’t tell who he’s talking about, are being too enthusiastic and know too much. They shouldn’t use the correct terminology, sing their team’s songs or do anything at all like in England, because, you know, the EPL is the ONLY league being watched in the US. A punch in the face is too good for this cretin. The xenophobia continues and of course, leads to a Revolutionary War comment…

“On a recent weekend, I went to a bar to watch the UEFA Champions League final and found myself stationed next to a soccer fan wearing a replica Arsenal jersey, a team scarf around his neck and a pair of Dr. Martens lace-ups. He looked like he he’d been born and raised along the Holloway Road. In fact, he was from Virginia. The whole thing seemed to be less an expression of genuine fandom and more like an elaborate piece of performance art. Didn’t we fight a war so you guys wouldn’t have to take cues on how to behave from London?”

The nerve. With all due respect to all my English mates. Yes a war was fought, the English lost, now you’re a guest in that country and taking the piss out of the supporters of a global game; simple solution — leave.

“It should come as no surprise that the situation is particularly heinous in New York City. This is a town where artisanal toast is now a thing. So of course there’s a peculiar species of fan here whose passion for soccer seems to be less about 22 men chasing a ball up and down a field and more about its intellectual and cosmopolitan qualities. Never mind that no other sport is so linked to the working class. For these fans, rooting for an English soccer team is a highbrow pursuit and a mark of sophistication, like going to a Wes Anderson movie or owning a New Yorker subscription. It’s not just English soccer that’s been fetishized in this way, of course. Your soccer snobs have pilfered elements of fan culture from Spain, Italy and Latin America. These days, half of your national team has been imported from Germany. There’s the curious obsession with ‘tifo’—those enormous banners that are unfurled in stadiums before kickoff. They work at Lazio, Bayern Munich or Boca Juniors. At Real Salt Lake, not so much.”

No words for the above excerpt. Let’s put down New York and its fascinating mix of cultures and at times “high brow” tendencies. Of course, to make the argument somewhat broad in its attempt he mentions certain things taken from other football cultures. All the while forgetting one thing; America is a melting pot of different cultures from around the globe, wouldn’t it then be natural that all of these cultures would import some of their quirks and customs from the one sport that is shared by them all? No, wait, that would be too much of a conscientious and logical conclusion to come to. I won’t comment on his derision of the US Men’s National Team, because of course, other countries have never imported any players to their NT or the US has never lost a player to another country…

“These soccer snobs are so intent on maintaining an aura of authenticity that when they make a slip-up or use an incorrect or ill-advised term, I feel compelled to pounce on them with all the force of a Roy Keane challenge.There’s no such position as outside back! (It is fullback.) The rest of the world doesn’t call them PKs! (It is penalties. Just penalties.)”

OK mate, make up your mind. A second ago you were complaining about how terminology being used correctly by novices or die-hard supporters alike drove you mad, now you’re having a go for the few that make mistakes. Which is it? Keep a proper argument going at least. If you’re going to look the part of the idiot, as you have to this point, at least be consistent.

“Not to mention the fact that your fans happily refer to Team USA captain Clint Dempsey by the nickname “Deuce.” Deuce?! This is international soccer, not “Top Gun.” Ever since a ball was first kicked into a net, it has been an inviolable law of the game that Dempsey should be shortened to Demps. Just like Michael Bradley gets cut to Bradders, John Brooks to Brooksy and Jermaine Jones to Jonesy, or perhaps JJ, at a push. (For the record, Mix Diskerud can still be known as Mix Diskerud.)”

So, first it was “stop being so English”, then it was “stop being so worldly”, then “be more American”. Now with this last excerpt it is “but don’t be SO American, in this instance it’s OK to be a little English.” Amazing way to try to prove a point; painstaking to read and to understand the different stances within the complaint, but one thing is clear, it screams “I hate America.”

“The great regret about all this is that mimicking the customs of fans from everywhere else could hinder the development of your own American soccer identity. One of the joys of soccer is seeing how different cultures view, interpret and celebrate the game in their own distinct ways. I find it fascinating, for example, that while we see soccer as a broad narrative that unfolds over 90 minutes, your fans tend to think about the sport as a series of discrete events. Or that I view the coming World Cup and England’s inevitable failure with a mixture of trepidation and dread, while your fans seem positively excited about the tournament. Mind you, with Team USA facing a potentially decisive matchup with Germany, there’s a strong chance that your upbeat disposition won’t last long. That is one lesson you can take from an Englishman.”

One great thing about the above excerpt, it marks the end to a horrid piece of xenophobic propaganda. As I stated before, the great thing about the US is its great cultural diversity, naturally that diversity was always sure to integrate itself into the sport as football grew. Maybe the “American way” to support is a mix of all of those cultures and that’s okay. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” as they say.


Having lived on three continents and beginning my support for Arsenal roughly 23 years ago, from Dallas, TX, I have never been so incensed at such a thoughtless article by a “sports journalist” in my life. The way it stereotypes Americans and football fans in general is ghastly and the disconnect from reality is so large that it begs the question — Why would someone live and work and continue to subject themselves to a society — or better yet, to a sub-sect of the society they quite obviously loathe? In short. Leave. I’m 100% sure that you won’t be missed.

I’ve made my points above so there’s no reason to re-list them again, the narrative from my perspective is very obvious. What I will say to finish up is that this view is undoubtedly in the minority. I’ve spoken to supporters from all over the globe, as we all have, and no matter the age, by in large they are all obsessives about the teams they follow and would be equally judged by this moron. Between the hate and the casual/plastic tone of the published article, I felt compelled to respond.

So, Jonathan Clegg, take a bow son. You’ve won cunt of the year, and it’s only June. Congratulations.

*All the misspelled words in the quotes from the original article have not been changed as to not take away from the amateurish nature of the original piece.*