In the 1980’s, Hooliganism was rampant throughout the English Football leagues, so much so that it was called the English disease. It was part of what instituted CCTV, which is now easily visible across the country.
It was a dark time in football’s history, one that led to sweeping changes to the way the English now watch their beloved game. Terraces were removed, standing became a punishable offense, and ticket prices skyrocketed. The working class English supporter was eventually pushed out, and the English football atmosphere now resembles little of its former self. However, before and during this period, English football supporters were one of, if not the most, revered supporters in the world for what they did inside the stadiums on match day.
Many of their songs and less nefarious traditions have since spread across the world, including to the streets of our beloved Seattle. What matters here when looking back at those supporters is their ability to come together as individuals and turn a quiet soggy football pitch into a cacophony of sound as they passionately pushed their clubs to stratospheric heights was something to be appreciated. Those supporters of the 70’s and 80’s left an indelible mark (both positively and negatively) on the way people support their football clubs across the world in a number of ways, and it’s important to remember where match day support WAS in England, and how it got to where it stands (or sits, really) today.
Fast forward a couple decades with me.
The Emerald City supporters arrive on the scene (that's you). ECS brings a blend of football culture from around the world, including songs and traditions from clubs like Dortmund, Millwall, and Panathinaikos to the stadium on match day. Those songs and traditions, along with the infusion of its own American style, makes headlines in 2009 as the Seattle Sounders smash through attendance records and expectations…but the story that's told about the Emerald City Supporters isn’t exactly complete. The groundwork for what ECS does was built from the early days of MLS. Supporter groups started popping up in the old soccer mom-friendly MLS.
Even so, groups in Chicago and DC sang songs, displayed choreos, lit flares and smoke bombs to celebrate. ECS, in some small part, was built on the backs of these early adopters of supporter culture in the United States. As groups from cities such as Toronto, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Philadelphia, New York, Orlando, Montreal, and LA grew and shaped themselves into the groups we see today, the MLS has flourished.
The league continues to expand, players never thought obtainable are coming into the league, and attendance continues to grow. Long gone are the soccer mom marketing plans. MLS ads are now heavily inundated with visions and language straight from supporter culture. Impenetrable walls of flags dance in slow motion, drummers are seen beating their tools of the trade, and plumes of colored smoke are seen wafting into the night sky. This is how MLS sells its brand. WE are how MLS continues to grow. YOU are the reason this league and your club continue to become destination points for top tier talent all over the world.
Over the last few seasons we’ve begun to see a change from MLS, though. We saw the “code of conduct” class policy instituted. We’ve seen an uptick in bans, fines, and sanctions against groups and individuals often with little or no evidence and even less recourse for appeal. Supporter groups aren’t without their faults in this country, but compared to other countries, MLS supporters tend to be pretty well-behaved. Many groups appreciate that if they do the crime, they pay the fine despite there really aren’t 100% clear rules and regulation available in every instance. The league still has zero away support protocols, and security theater is the hottest show in town.
Which brings me to the point.
Recently, the DC United Supporter groups had a march to the stadium to help unify the various groups. Over the years, they’ve had their differences and in an act to reunify for the support of their club, they decided to “bury the hatchet,” so to speak.
They marched, they sang, and they popped smoke as they have before on their way TO the stadium. MLS has since brought sanctions on the District Ultras (1 of the 4 groups involved) and banned another prominent member of the District Ultras for 1 calendar year FROM ALL MLS SOCCER MATCHES. They claim the individual’s act was a crime though no charges have been brought up against the individual by the DC Police Department and the District Ultras are also claiming that the device falls within the laws of Washington, D.C. According to our understanding, this was this individual’s 1st MLS offense.
We understand MLS’ fear of the hooliganism of the 1980’s. We understand the desire to keep all fans safe. We fear MLS is hurting the culture and the league they claim to care so much about by treating supporters the way they do. ECS has worked very closely with the Sounders’ FO to allow our supporters to enjoy all the great things being a supporter comes with. While we may not always come to an agreement on how we do things, the Sounders’ FO has always kept an open dialogue with us which is why we rarely have found ourselves in situations like this. We appreciate the Sounders for continuing to keep the working relationship we have, and we hope MLS can look to the Sounders as they have in the past for guidance on how to better communicate with their more passionate fans.
ECS does not support violence or criminal activity in any form, but we also request that individuals and groups be provided evidence of their crime as well as be justly punished. Everyone deserves fair treatment regardless of their offense. MLS routinely markets its brand with images of supporters just like this individual in DC popping smoke and flares. Acts they claim to be against their code of conduct and to be illegal. Their own employee Rachel Bonnetta (who has since left MLS) was proudly displayed popping smoke with OCSC supporters from the MLS’ own YouTube account.
It is hypocritical of the MLS to use the supporters of this league for advertisements and then ban and sanction them for the exact same actions they use in those marketing efforts. Furthermore, a system that does not provide evidence to these individuals / groups of their “crimes” while punishing them is unacceptable. There is a double standard in MLS and it cannot continue.
Historically, ECS has taken a very hands-off approach in dealing with supporter groups from around the league. We do everything we can to not distract our supporters from supporting our club. That said, given the way ECS and its members were treated by the league last season, as well as our understanding that eventually our members could very well be in the same situation as the District Ultras, we have decided to stand with the them, as many other supporter groups have over this past week.
We find the way MLS is treating the supporter groups that have built and funded this league for 20 years to be completely unacceptable. If a crime has been committed, then let the authorities deal with it. We find the double standard MLS shows by marketing individuals and then banning them for the same actions unacceptable. We find the system in which supporters are punished unacceptable. Supporters helped build this league. They deserve more respect, appreciation, and communication then the current MLS management gives them, especially considering their long-term viability has a significant dependence on the environments that we, the suppoorters, help create on matchday.
We, the supporters of the MLS and American soccer are not hooligans and we should not be treated as such.
We stand united with DC.
(NOTE: We're continuing the conversation here)
It’s been a bad start. No doubt about it. And, anyone can make reasons to find another distraction, another use for their ticket money, another way to spend their time.
But that’s not what an Emerald City Supporter does. We get stuck in. It’s what we’ve always done. Whenever our club is on the brink, we grab the rope and pull them back.
In fact, this week marks the eight year anniversary of just such a situation. You see, we may be bemoaning the Sounders bad start this year, but it could be much worse. We could be bemoaning the bad start of a team named Seattle Alliance, Seattle FC, or Seattle Republic. No kidding. Eight years ago this week, we voted on our club’s new MLS name, and Sounders wasn’t even an option. That’s the way MLS wanted it, but that is not what they ultimately got.
Through the hard work and dedication of many Emerald City Supporters, the MLS Seattle group was forced to acknowledge the groundswell of Sounders fans and offer a write-in option. That write-in option won, as 82% of ballots had some form of Sounders written in. In fact, you can go back through the public portion of our forums, and read the threads that mobilized our members, and the greater soccer community. Read about the daunting task, read the ‘don’t bother’ replies from some of the detractors, and experience their process as they used Democracy in Sports to save our past from obscurity and protect our future. I encourage every member to take a moment and read some of these threads. Click here and browse up to Page 32. It’s worth your time. Read how ECS members, former capos, and other leaders took it upon themselves to organize, call, email, write in, fight, and ultimately toast to our Seattle Sounders FC.
This is part of our legacy, YOUR legacy as an Emerald City Supporter. Hold that in your hearts.
This Saturday, as you stand in the Brougham End with your fellow Faithful, and we watch our boys take on an old foe, keep this with you: WE ARE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE IN OUR CLUB. Believe in the men who wear our crest, inspire them with your energy and passion, and drown out the nay-sayers with your voices.
This is our home. This is our city. This is our Seattle Sounders FC.
Heather Satterberg, Co-president
photo by Tepid00
Tonight's display has a simple message, "We're Back." While simple, there are multiple ways to interpret what that means. It's the start of the 2016 campaign, a chance to renew the chase for the elusive MLS Cup. After the disappointing finish to yet another promising year in 2015, many supporters of the Rave Green were dejected, lost, and hurting. The first match of a new season has a certain magic to it. It has the ability to heal those wounds, a chance for new beginnings.
We're back also lets our boys know that, we have not given up, and we have not abandoned them. We a're right where they could always find us on match day, in the Brougham End, doing our part to ensure victory.
Regardless of your interpretation, the message is the same. We haven't gone anywhere, we're still contenders, and we're still the mighty Rave Green. We're Baaaaaack!
The concept for tonight's choreo came from our very own Barra Fuerza Verde (BFV). You may recognize the design, as it has flown it as a BFF in Section 121 for the past few seasons. The play on the popular saying "si, se puede" replaces "Sí" (or yes) with "Sea" for "Seattle," sending the message to our Spanish-speaking players, as well as the rest of the team, that Seattle is behind them, even against a juggernaut such as Club América. The vertical stripes on either side of the overhead are done all over Latin American terraces, and help pull the whole piece together in a way that should be familiar to opponents and traveling support alike.
A couple of quick notes:
Champions League is a big deal, a very big deal. Historically, the Mexican sides have dominated play against MLS sides. No MLS club has ever won Champions League to date. In fact, only two MLS sides have ever eliminated a Mexican side in the CCL knockout rounds: Our Sounders in 2013 vs. Tigres UANL, and the Montreal Impact in 2015 vs Pachuca.
Can we do it again? Can we knock off Club América and move on to the semifinals of Champions League?
SEA SE PUEDE!
Our tenth season supporting the Sounders has come to a close, but there’s a lot happening in the offseason for you to be a part of as we gear up for the 2016 season.
Tuesday, February 23rd - Sounders vs Club America
CCL starts. Are you ready?
In addition to all of the above, we’ll be working on a redesigned website and forums as well as preparing for all of next season’s home and away matches.
Monday, November 30th- Cyber Monday Sale
Want to complete your flag collection? Snag a scarf from a previous season? We’ll have a lot of merch for sale on our Cyber Monday sale, and it will be the first time you can purchase a 2016 ECS Membership! More info in the Facebook invite!
Friday, December 3rd – Tifo Exposé
Come join us at The Ninety for Pioneer Square’s First Thursday Art Walk where we’ll be hosting an event with SSFC to showcase the tifo and choreos that we’ve put together in the past decade. This will also be an opportunity to pick up your Cyber Monday merchandise (except memberships).
Wednesday, December 9th – Merch Shipping Event
Want to get more involved with ECS? Come join us for a Merch Shipping event where we’ll be packing up the Cyber Monday sales and readying our 2016 memberships.
Saturday, December 12th – ECS End of Season Party
Put on your nicest threads and join us for the ECS End of Season Party at Trinity Nightclub. This event includes our annual business meeting, announcement of the winner of the Jon Glyer ECS Player of the Year Award, 2016 Membership Kit reveal and the 2015 ECS Moment of the Year along with photo opportunities with the Cascadia Cup and lots of Macarena-ing with 2 DJs and 2 dance floors, one exclusively playing Spanish Music! Tickets are available through December 10th in our store, check there for more details!
Wednesday, January 6th - Tifo Prep Session
Are you looking to get more involved in the production of tifo in 2016? This is your chance, join us as we prep things for next season; check the Tifo forum thread for more details. Members only.
Saturday, January 23rd - First Practice & Off-season Workgroup Planning
Meet us at Starfire at 10am for our First Practice celebration to welcome the team back followed by Off-season Workgroup Planning. Want to get more involved in our workgroups (tifo, merch, travel, gameday, etc)? This is a great opportunity to meet others and help with planning for the year! Bring your 2016 Membership card (yep, the bottle opener), and get a free slice at Zaw and $2 Redhook. Don't worry if you haven't gotten your kit yet, we can look you up or hook you up with a renewal on the spot. Also, flag poles and pvc will be available, so come show off those 2 poles you've been working on in the off-season!
Monday, February 8th thru Monday, February 15th - Tifo Production
Monday, February 15th - We came to drink..Redhook No Equal Re-Launch
Ever miss an old friend so much, it hurts?
Well, good news ECS - Redhook No Equal Blonde is back! And we're going to celebrate the only way we know how - by drinking beer. And perhaps singing. Maybe even both!
Join us at the Atlantic Crossing on President's Day from 3:00PM to tap the first keg of 2016 No Equal Blonde. All pints from the first keg will be available at a ridiculously low price of $2.70 for any ECS member showing their 2016 membership card (yup, the metal bottle-opener). And it's not a party without a raffle - prizes generously donated by Redhook, Jameson and the Atlantic Crossing.
Plan on joining us - after all, you can't support if you're parched!
Saturday, February 20th - South Sound Membership Drive
Save the Date! For this annual pre-season event co-hosted by Black Hills Militia, 253 Defiance, and the Armed Services Group.