Days after the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick all but confirmed the New York Red Bulls place in the local sporting pantheon by criticizing the soccer team’s fans for their abusive language, When Saturday Comes’ Ed Upright reports the club is attempting to bribe fans into dialing it down a bit. To be clear, Upright writes the Red Bulls have offered as much as $2000 to supporters groups if they manage to refrain from the oft-heard chant of “You Suck Asshole” for four matches in a row.
The Red Bulls have put their supporters’ groups in a very difficult situation. Accepting money from the club in exchange for changed behaviour raises accusations of “selling-out” and questions over a group’s independence and integrity. But YSA is widely seen as a dated chant that has long run its course, the sanctions are harsh and there’s a lot of money on the table. The Empire Supporters Club is the oldest and largest group and they initially appeared receptive to the idea of the payments. Yet Tim Hall, one of the five Empire board members and a Red Bull Arena capo (who orchestrates the supporter section), told me that the group has yet to make a decision on the offer.
Hall, speaking as a fan, showed his frustration with the whole situation and the fuss over a chant that without sustained attention from MLS would have “died out ages ago”. He notes that: “One of the questions that keeps popping up is ‘do we really want children hearing this?’ Because, you know, kids aren’t using words much worse than ‘asshole’ on the playground to entertain themselves, and they certainly don’t hear worse on TV or in movies. That’s a popular angle to take when people get offended, jump to the defence of hypothetical children.”
As Hall continues, the chant could also provide a language education: “There are parents bringing their kids to Red Bull games who laugh hysterically when their kids participate in YSA. It’s a teachable moment: it’s OK to use that word here, in that moment, but not at home, not at school and not in front of Grandma.”