Or do they want consumers, perhaps? Disturbing news out of New York (or rather, New Jersey), as Tim at Notes From a Soccer Junkie reports on heavy-handed security at last nights New York Red Bulls-Chivas USA game:
Paid attendance was a miserable 10,500+ for a nationally televised scrap with a decent side from the Western Conference. As always, the only section striving to create some sort of atmosphere was the Empire Supporter’s Club in section 101. Unfortunately, Giants Stadium security were three games into their inexplicable war on section 101 and the ESC. The game against Chivas was marred by frequent invasions of the ESC section by security to do things like confiscate balloons, streamers, and whistles.
Oh, and it gets even pettier:
Security also went through camera phones and countless pockets, going so far as to temporarily take inhalers, of people seated in the ESC section, 101 in Giants Stadium. Security’s needless provocation reached it’s apex towards the end of the game when a Red Bulls supporter was carted away for chanting that a security guard had a “fake tan,” and another was dragged away for trying to give a dollar bill to a friend.
The Red Bulls are a struggling franchise off the field, with disappointing attendance given their catchment area and the fact they actually have a decent team with a few well-known players (Reyna, Angel, Altidore, Mathis) on it. The ESC are a small but lively group, and one has to respect the fact that they show up and make all the noise they can in an otherwise hauntingly empty arena, often barely a fifth full in a place that holds over 80,000.
It’s a mystery, then, as to why security has decided to crack down on the ESC: why alienate your few remaining harcore fans? It’s not clear if this a decision by the Red Bull organisation, or one taken by stadium management on their own initiative. And it’s hardly the first time MLS supporters’ groups — who are remarkably passionate yet who cause very little trouble — have been targeted in this way. There’s obviously something of a cultural issue going on here too, with security often run by people who only have previous experience and knowledge of American sports, and may well suspect soccer fans of being one beer away from turning into rampant hooligans.
But as Tim concludes, there’s only so much abuse these groups will take, and if they go, what exists in terms of atmosphere at MLS games will also disappear.
Giants Stadium security is waging war on the ESC, Red Bulls most vociferous and active supporters club. Take ESC away and Giants Stadium is a Franciscan monastery.
It’s your move Red Bull. Are you gonna stand with the heavy-handed security at Giants Stadium or with, well, the rest of the world?