Showing newest 16 of 49 posts from June 2011. Show older posts
Showing newest 16 of 49 posts from June 2011. Show older posts

Thursday, June 30, 2011

FBM DrinkWear: Live Breathe Futbol


As soccer in America grows so does the call for quality, stylish lifestyle apparel. We’ve all got our jerseys, scarves, and team specific Snuggies, but those have their time and place limitations. Thankfully soccer fans have great options with companies like Bumpy Pitch and Objectivo (maker of the FBM shirt!).

But there’s a new kid on the block and he’s a design machine. Introducing Ebun Olaloye and his brand, “Live Breathe Futbol”, who’s name implies that his shirts are for soccer fans both on and off the pitch; for those who’s obsession with the game is a lifestyle choice. Olaloye makes shirts that work in game at at the bars.

We were lucky enough to get a few shirts from LBF and can attest to their comfort and style. Ebun was also gracious enough to answer a bunch of questions about where LBF came from, his thought process behind each shirt, and what’s next for the company.

Read on….

Free Beer Movement: Tell me a little about yourself. Who are you? Your background in design? Your background in your love of soccer?

Live Breathe Futbol: My name is Ebun and I’m a 21 year old architecture student at Temple University in Philadelphia. My obsession with design started when I was a child. I drew on the walls of my parent’s living room and on any blank surface I could find. In the 9th grade a friend saw my sketch of a t-shirt and asked me to make it for him. Since then I became obsessed with designing t-shirts and my sophomore year I made a new t-shirt every day to wear to school.

My love of soccer started in Nigeria where I was born. I grew up watching the Super Eagles and playing soccer with my friends during recess at school. I quickly became obsessed to the point where I’d disobey my father and stay out on the field much longer than I was allowed to. I always got in trouble for it, but to me getting to play for an extra hour or two was worth the reprimand.

FBM:Where did LBF come from? Why did you start it? How did it start?

The shirt that started it all.
LBF: My sophomore year in college I painted a t-shirt with Cristiano Ronaldo on it. It was bold, unrefined and unlike anything I’d ever seen. I got tons of complements on the shirt even from people who had no idea who he was. And shortly after I made a shirt with Kaka hoisting the Ballon d’Or trophy the year he won it. LBF still didn’t exist at this point; I was just painting shirts with my favorite players on them. One day, I was in class and drew a t-shirt in my sketchbook that had the words “Live Breathe Futbol” on it. I thought it sounded cool and got two dozen shirts printed up. All my friends at pick up soccer bought the shirts within a few days. At that point I hadn’t decided on a name for the brand, but ended up sticking with “Live Breathe Futbol” because there is no question about what it means; it is as direct as can be. If you see anyone wearing a shirt that says Live Breathe Futbol, you immediately know what their life is like.

I started LBF as a response to a fascinating phenomenon I witnessed firsthand at Temple University and other surrounding colleges. Everywhere my friends and I went to play there were a group of guys from all over the world who were playing soccer daily just because they loved the game. The conversations on the sidelines were all about soccer as well, so LBF is my way of championing this soccer-driven lifestyle that so many people across the world live.

FBM: What is the philosophy/beliefs behind LBF?

LBF: LBF operates under two core beliefs, with one relating to design and the other to futbol. LBF’s design philosophy is that a sport as beautiful and colorful as soccer needs a brand that provides fans with beautiful, well-designed gear that is culturally relevant to the sport. I haven’t seen a brand that makes soccer apparel that gets me super excited. My goal is to make LBF that brand for people. I want to design shirts that make people go absolutely nuts the same way they do when they see an amazing goal.

LBF’s futbol philosophy is sort of split into two parts. The first part has to do with the divisiveness of futbol as a sport. As an Arsenal fan, I am morally obligated to dislike Tottenham, etc… However, I feel the same joy as a Spurs fan when our teams win, and the same agony when our teams lose. My goal is to unite futbol fans based on our collective love and passion for the game. The second part of the philosophy has to do with championing the futbol players who play for the love of the game. My friends and I have never earned a dime from playing futbol, yet we’ve spent hundreds of dollars on league fees and driven hundreds of miles just to play futbol. I think it’s time that amateur players get some shine.

FBM: Inside each of your shirts reads, “This garment is designed with the history, character, and flair of the beautiful game in mind. Wear with pride. Remember it’s about moments.” Tell me what that means to you and what it means to the wearer of your shirts.

LBF: When I started LBF I wanted to make each piece mean something to the person who ends up wearing the shirt. The reason for printing the quote on the inside of the shirt is to remind the wearer that LBF isn’t just a brand that’s making cool t-shirts. Each design begins somewhere real, whether it’s a momentous game, a legendary player, or an emotion that resonates with every supporter. That way, you’re wearing something with a bit of history and character. Some people buy things based solely on aesthetics, and others buy for sentimental reasons. I just wanted to ensure that regardless of why you buy an LBF shirt you remember the moments that inspired its creation.

FBM: You recently won a contest with one of your shirt designs for the Philadelphia Union? Tell me about that.

LBF: Winning the Philadelphia Union‘s contest was immense for both LBF and me as young designer. My good friend, Jeff, sent me the link to the contest. I am not a huge fan of design contests because the talent out there is so amazing that it can be discouraging to even try at all. However, at the time of the contest I was in a mindset where I wanted to really challenge myself as a designer and see how I fared in comparison to other designers.

My goal with the Union contest was to create something that was culturally relevant to both Philadelphia as a city and the Union as a new part of the city’s sports identity. After a few iterations in my sketchbook, I decided that a hand drawn design was the best approach to capturing the classic and iconic look that best describes Philadelphia. Fortunately, the design resonated with people enough to make it the winner. I got the chance to stand on the field at PPL Park in front of 19,000 people. It was very special, too, because I got to share the moment with my friends.

FBM: How can fashion influence American soccer culture? What part does it play in American soccer culture?

I think fashion can influence American soccer culture if iconic American brands like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger embrace American soccer and promote the game with their clothing. By doing this, they expose people who never watched a game of soccer to the wonderful sport the same way Ralph Lauren did with his POLO line.

LBF Spring Fashion Show
Fashion’s role in American soccer culture can be looked at from two angles. The first is on the scale of the national team. American pride is on display at stadiums with flags waving and countless U.S. jerseys with “Donovan” and “Dempsey” written across the backs. However, this is a bit problematic because Nike wins in all of this. American soccer simply needs more fashion brands creating gear that people can wear in support of the national team. I honestly get a bit tired of seeing the same jerseys over and over again. A cool t-shirt is more versatile and more stylish than a jersey.

Fashion also shows the diversity in American soccer culture. I know a ton of guys who wear jerseys from countries they aren’t from just to show their support for or admiration of players from those countries. It is really inspiring to see how diverse American soccer fans are. I imagine this doesn’t happen in many other places in the world.

FBM: What’s upcoming for LBF? Any hints to the summer line?

LBF: There’s quite a lot upcoming for LBF. So far the brand has been run entirely by me, and in order to take it to the next level, I’ve teamed up with a good friend of mine who’s also soccer crazy to get things going. We also started an inter-collegiate league that features 24 universities in the tri-state area (NJ, DE, PA) called the Live Breathe Futbol Premier League. We will also launch a new website that’s pretty cool along with the summer line.

The summer line is going to be very relaxed. A lot of the pieces are understated and a departure from the graphically intense designs that the brand is known for. Summer is about kicking back, relaxing with your friends and not having a care in the world. The shirts will reflect that without losing the essence of living and breathing futbol.

 Check out Live Breathe Futbol for these and more awesome shirts!

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Toronto FC Signs Worst Person in the World to MLS Contract


Editor’s Note: Toronto FC fans that are coming to this site…. this post is a work of SATIRE and should be treated as such. The Free Beer Movement is about building American soccer and Major League Soccer (including its Canadian teams). Read our interview with TFC’s Red Patch Boys as well).

Also, we are not an FC Dallas blog… no idea where anyone would get that idea.

Real cute Toronto. Thought we wouldn’t notice? Well… we did.

We see what you were trying to slip past us. It’s not gonna happen. We’re not happy with you.

Shhh. Shhh. Don’t talk. Yeah we know you really took one for us hiring Jurgen Klinsmann as your “consultant” or whatever. We really dodged a bullet not naming him U.S. National Team coach. He’s really shown his worth to TFC….

But this…. now this…. this is unforgivable. We know you’re terrible and currently sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but there’s no excuse for this.

Torsten Frings? Really? That’s who you’re bringing over as your designated player? Wow.

We know you’re Canadian and all so it probably doesn’t mean much to you, but this guy is a dirtbag.

You might even call him “the worst person in the world”. Well, clearly YOU wouldn’t call him that… you just decided to give him a bunch of money. Loonies, right? That’s what you call it.

Well we’re calling him “the worst person in the world” AND that you all are a bunch of loonies. How about that for a double slam?!?!

What? You say he’s a nice guy? You say that he’s a quality soccer player that’s really going to shore up the TFC midfield and bring some much need organization to the squad? That one mistake shouldn’t mar an accomplished career?

Paul. Paul! Roll the tape! Pause it right there… yeah… the 1:45 mark.


That’s a handball. That should’ve been a penalty and then Landon Donovan would’ve converted then PK to tie the game. Clearly we would’ve gone on to win the match. Duh! Probably even the World Cup. Brian McBride would’ve never retired, Bruce Arena will still be the National Team coach today, and Chicharito would probably be an American citizen.

You’re just rewarding bad behavior!

Can’t believe you guys! We let you play in OUR league and now this is how you re-pay us.


But, hey… that Danny Koevermans seems like a nice guy. Good move getting him.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The First Fan: How Obama Could Become the “Leader of the Free (Beer) World”

The President’s posse… the Colorado Rapids.
The President welcomed the reigning Major League Soccer champions Colorado Rapids to the White House this week building on his already bulging soccer credentials. He even compared himself to Barcelona great Lionel Messi.

Even though its customary for Presidents to welcome league title holders in American sports, Barack Obama has proven to be unique in his soccer fandom from his predecessors.

The self-proclaimed “soccer dad” is often seen supporting both daughters, Malia and Sacha, from the sidelines of their respective soccer matches.

Obama is an admitted West Ham fan after a trip five years ago to London and said that he tries to watch soccer when his busy schedule allows it. Obama grew up playing loads of basketball and still does regularly on the White House court. Despite this he’s been seen kicking a ball about in Brazil (still to basketball Barack) and even his wife, Michelle, has played the footie in the DC-area to help promote her anti-obesity campaign and in South Africa in support of “Grassroots Soccer”.
Obama and Messi… owners of the #10 jersey

The thing we enjoyed the most from his remarks to the Rapids on Monday was the President’s focus on the uniqueness of American soccer and, in some cases, the uniqueness of America as a whole. That these players, because of their modest salaries, are closer to their fans than other professional sports in the United States and that our domestic league is so diverse and representative of our nation.

From the event’s transcript (video here):
But what really sets this team apart is not how they play only. It’s also why they play. They have a love for the game that has brought them together.
This team, obviously, has overcome quite a few cultural differences. This is like a mini United Nations right here. (Laughter.) You’ve got players from Argentina, England, France, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Scotland, and Senegal. In fact, I heard that the night before the championship, Kosuke Komura — where is Kosuke? Right here. I understand that he made a very inspiring speech to the team, but it was in Japanese, so nobody really — (laughter) — understood what he was saying, but it was really inspirational, was what I heard. (Laughter.)

This is also a team that makes due without the high salaries and perks that some other professional sports teams enjoy. Players can sometimes actually be seen eating at local restaurants together after practice. A few guys chipped in to buy a fishing boat that they keep hidden in the stadium parking lot. (Laughter.)

But while life in the MLS isn’t always fancy, it serves to bring players closer to each other and to their fans.
“Next time let’s do this watching soccer.”
Beyond the realm of the beautiful game Barack Obama is also a fan of the beautiful beer. Obama just needs to meld the two together and use his powers as the “Leader of the Free World” to become the ultimate member of the Free Beer Movement family.

Right now Bill Clinton holds the title as the most distinguished FBMer on the planet (post-match South Africa beers and GoUSA Bid honorary chairman) and, also unfortunately for Obama, he also hold took his mantle as the first black president.

So President Barack Obama has just a little bit further to grow as both a beer (he drank a Bud Light at the infamous “beer summit”) and American soccer fan.West Ham? Really?

Certainly he could choose an American soccer team. Chicago Fire perhaps? He’s already a big White Sox fan and a long-time Chi-town resident so this shouldn’t be too big of a jump. Somebody send him a scarf! We’re all about newbies growing their love of the game just as long as Obama doesn’t end up like the President of Bolivia.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Rivalries and Race

Photo provided by Jeremy Olson/ (Full gallery here)

It was a tough day to be an American soccer fan. Saturday’s 4-2 loss to regional rivals Mexico after holding an early, 2-0 is one of those games that will hurt for awhile. Processing what went right, what went wrong, and what to do about it all is a question for the players, the coach, Sunil Gulati, and the Big Soccer message boards.

A loss to Mexico is always hard to take. As teams and fans we measure ourselves to the performances of our neighbor to the south. Of late things looked pretty good. Chants of “dos a cero”, a reminder of eerily similar results the U.S. has racked up against El Tri in some crucial contests, a favorite of supporters.

Now it’s Mexico’s turn. Consecutive winners of the CONCACAF Gold Cup they now will be booking tickets to the Confederation’s Cup as our regional representatives; a tournament the Americans made so magical a short time ago in South Africa.

Our concern today, though, is not the results that took place on the field, but the worrying actions that occurred beyond the edges of the field at the Rose Bowl. By now you’ve probably read the shocking allegations of American fan treatment in Pasadena (if you haven’t it’s important for context). The actions of these Mexican fans are nothing short of embarrassing.

In a stadium filled to capacity (93,420) fans of the U.S. National Team were easily outnumbered 90-10 by their continental counterparts. For anyone who’s ever been apart of one it’s easy to see how “mob mentality” took over many Mexican fans and fueled their actions. From verbal and physical harassment of American fans, to the tossing of various objects (bottles and the like) in a crowd that size and overwhelming numerical superiority, those guilty of such inappropriate behavior mostly likely thought they would get away with their actions. And they did.

It’s unfortunately that these actions by individuals who retreated back into the crowd after their acts of cowardice are left to rule the day and fuel the frustrations of American fans already upset by the game’s results. For any fan, of any nation, to be treated as such is a disgrace and only inflames the difficult relations between these fan groups.

No one is disputing the fact that the rivalry between the United States and Mexico isn’t going to be heated. And certainly American fans aren’t without fault. There was our share of off-color stupidity on our side of the fence as well. But rivalries should never disintegrate into racism or worse, violence.

For some the knee-jerk reaction is to respond with the same tired remarks about Mexico and Mexicans and to make an indictment of an entire people. But for every cringing story of abuse from the Rose Bowl came a counter-story of incident-free interactions with the fans of El Tri.

Unfortunately this latest edition of US versus Mexico played out on so many levels. Beyond the soccer pitch is the elephant in the room with the issue of immigration. In recent months several states have enacted (with many more states considering them) several tough measures regarding stemming the flow of undocumented immigrants into the United States and political candidates on both sides of the issue have continued to use the issue as a political football (whichever football you prefer). Frustrations from Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and white Americans color the entire scene. As these tensions rise outside the lens of soccer it’s not surprising that issues play out in the parking lots and stadiums of our two nations’ matches.

What happened on Saturday shouldn’t be forgotten, but it also shouldn’t be used to justify retribution or continued racism. For those that suffered at the hands of some outrageous fan behavior they have every right to demand answers and changes before future match ups between these two teams.

Before the next edition of U.S. against Mexico whether it be in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, an international friendly, and/or World Cup qualifiers there needs to be a complete overhaul of how the venues of these matches are secured, policed, and rules enforced.

This time the blame for not adequately protecting the fans fell to CONCACAF and officials in charge of the Rose Bowl. Russel Jordan the author of the letter we linked to above wrote that he’s already had conversations with the general manager of the stadium who admitted that they had the most security ever at the Rose Bowl it wasn’t enough. National soccer columnist Steve Davis (Sports Illustrated) wrote on his own site that if the aging facility, while a huge money maker for CONCACAF, cannot be adequately policed then it shouldn’t be used for matches.

U.S. Soccer, the Mexican Federation (FMF) Soccer United Marketing, which helps promote the Mexican National Team in the U.S. are now aware that if incidents like the ones making the rounds become more and more frequent it could put every future U.S.-Mexico fixture at risk. Even though Gold Cup Finals and World Cup qualifiers will remain on the docket, huge revenue streams like international friendlies between the two or further U.S. tours of by Mexico will be under the microscope. Most importantly the spirit of healthy competition between the region’s two biggest teams will be lost.

Another concern for U.S. Soccer has to be how many fans or potential fans were lost on that sunny Saturday attending a match they were unprepared to experience. American soccer can ill-afford to alienate its small fan base with experiences and stories of dangerous game conditions and security problems.

Moving beyond Saturday’s events common sense will have to be CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer, and the FMF, and any venue hosting these matches’ guiding light. It was very clear that they will have to put profits behind protection of fans on either side. Dedicating a separate and/or secure section for U.S. fans (while bizarre as that may be fore a game INSIDE the U.S.) at the expensive of fulling filling it should be on the table. Just like some Major League Soccer teams are struggling in dealing with how to “handle” (for better or worse) soccer crowds security at these types of matches need to be in sufficient numbers and properly trained. Be in front of the problem not behind it.

And while not a solution one of the reasons the stadium was SO disproportionately one-sided was because one team’s fans bought Finals tickets in good faith while the other team’s fans’ dilly-dallied. Support your National Team and have faith!

Lastly, despite these terrible incident alleged we, as American soccer fans, must remain above the fray. The American Outlaws have posted their “Act Above” Code of Conduct that asks its member to avoid similar behaviors that they might experience and we can all take a page from that. It might feel good initially to lash out with some choice words about our southern neighbors or to take matters in our own hands next time, but in the long term none of that pays out.

If there’s any silver lining to this past weekend’s difficulties it is that American soccer is growing and growing stronger. While outnumbered and out-cheered USMNT supporters were not alone in their struggles. Rather than fans roaming isolated into the crowds of red, white, and green many were together in the AO section or in decent sized groups. Each new fan we make is another stalwart against being singled out at matches and someone to march with us in solidarity again the terrible actions of an angry few bent on ruining our American soccer experience.

It can’t and won’t be that easy to deter our fandom. Soccer in America and American soccer rises as surely as the sun does and there are no terrible words or actions that can stop that.

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Meet the 2011 United States Women’s National Team (Part 1)

Official Women’s World Cup Team Photo (Photo Credit: has been putting together these mini-profiles of each of the USWNT players that will complete in Germany for the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

Here are the first six videos featuring 13 of the 21 players on the roster.

Funny, random, factual…. all of the above. Meet your Lady Nats.

The USWNT will play their opening match of the World Cup Tuesday, June 28th at 10:45am on ESPN against North Korea.

Carli Lloyd and Hope Solo:

Rachel Buehler and Stephanie Cox:

Alex Morgan and Amy Rodriguez:

Tobin Heath and Lauren Cheney:

Shannon Boxx and Christie Rampone:

Amy LePeilbet, Becky Sauerbrunn and Ali Krieger:

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The Tuesday Ten: Freddy Adu vs. Panama, a Shakespearean Drama


We continue to welcome some great new contributors on the Free Beer Movement site. In collaboration with the quality soccer site, “The Other 87 Minutes” we present the “Tuesday Ten” (and sometimes the “Tuesday XI”) a thoughtful list on a variety of topics in the world of soccer.

What is this new site we’re exposing you too? We’ll let them explain:

The Other 87 seeks to provide something that’s not instant analysis or eve of matchday previews. Think of us as the good bits of your favorite soccer coverage: the profiles that examine what makes a certain player tick, the historical background that sheds some light on how the sport has evolved to the present day, the silly features that are more than just tacking names on a list, but considering and explaining why each one deserves to be there.
O87 wants to be a home for soccer writing that makes you think, but that also treats the game as just that, a game. The greatest game, the one we obsess over and fixate on, to the point where we can’t read that gas costs 3.43 a gallon without thinking of Ajax’s 1995 Champions League winning team. But a game nonetheless.
“When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball three minutes on average. The best players – the Zidanes, Ronaldinhos, Gerrards – will have the ball maybe four minutes. Lesser players – defenders – probably two minutes. So, the most important thing is: what do you do those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball…. That is what determines whether you’re a good player or not.” -Johann Cruyff
We present…. the “Tuesday Ten”. Today’s edition uses Twitter reaction to from around the American soccer Inter-Net-Blogo-Sphere from Freddy Adu’s resurrection last Wednesday against Panama in the Gold Cup Semi-Finals.

Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Act I: Introduction of the hero

@JPatarino And here he comes. Freddy Adu makes his #USMNT first appearance since 2009. Bob Bradley = desperate. #USA

@edsbs 52 year old teenager Freddy Adu in for #USMNT. #EnsureInTheHouse
Act II: Rising action

@racheldulitz Freddy Adu is about to be the first person tonight to trend on twitter with multiple question marks & exclamation points following his name.

@joshklingler I remember when Scottie Pippen once said Freddy Adu was better than Pele

Act III: Climax

@SoccerByIves WHAT A PASS from Freddy Adu to find Donovan, and Donovan hits the perfect pass to Dempsey. 1-0 USA. Welcome back FreddyAdu

@matchpricks I am unapologetically thrilled that Freddy Adu sprung that attack with a truly fantastic, crossfield, 50-yard pass.
Act IV: Falling action

@joshklingler If Freddy Adu put on about 200 pounds, Kenan Thompson could play him in the movie

@FisolaNYDN In a related story Berman of the Post reports that the Knicks are “targeting” but not “eyeing” Freddy Adu with the 17th pick.

Act V: Resolution, Denoument

@MLS_Insider So was the Freddy Adu comeback special better than Elvis’ in ’68?

 The match changed when Freddy Adu entered. There, I said it. #usmnt


[Tweeted while Adu was on the sidelines waiting to be subbed in] @darrenrovell In April ’07, I called Freddy Adu a failure. My critics slammed me saying it was “too early.” Four years later, is it still “too early?” Yes, Darren. It is still too early.

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NEWS WATCH – Six Short Films on Women and Soccer During the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011

Watch ALL six shorts here.

ESPN will present HERoics, a series of six short documentaries chronicling women’s courage, perseverance, breaking through barriers, failure and redemption, as part of its unprecedented coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011, it was announced today. The series, an ESPN global content development project, will live on, the company’s first dedicated content and digital hub designed to serve, inform and inspire female athletes and fans, beginning Saturday, June 25 – the eve of the Women’s World Cup.

The short films will offer in-depth profiles of FIFA Women’s World Cup players Marta (Brazil), Kelly Smith (England), and Lisa De Vanna (Australia); and highlight unique stories about a group of grandmothers and senior citizens on a team in Jerez, Spain, who continue to play into their 70s and 80s; a woman referee in the Republic of Congo who earned accolades from FIFA while working through the stress of abuse from fans; and a probation officer who uses soccer to steer troubled teens away from gangs in a Central California town.

In the United States, HERoics will debut on television as a one-hour program on ESPN2 on Saturday, June 25, at 7 p.m. ET, the same day it goes live on espnW. The series will air on ABC in the middle of the Women’s World Cup on Saturday, July 2, at 4 p.m. Hannah Storm, award-winning sportscaster and director of the HERoics profile of England’s Kelly Smith, will host both one-hour programs.

Much like the award-winning ESPN “30 for 30” documentary series, each short film will feature a different director. ESPN is collaborating with six different documentary filmmakers – all women – from diverse cultural backgrounds and countries, and from various genres of television and film storytelling.

HERoics will mirror the 2010 FIFA World Cup series “I Scored a Goal,” the ambitious, critically acclaimed project by ESPN that featured interviews with all but three of the living players who scored a goal in a World Cup final.

Watch ALL six shorts here.

The Stories:

Dois Riachos to Umeå (Director: Adriana Yanez)

Born in the small town of Dois Riachos in the Brazilian State of Alagoas (population 11,000), Marta Vieira da Silva, simply known as Marta, has transcended her humble beginnings to become one of her country’s legendary one-name soccer stars. Hers is the newest set of feet (97th) immortalized in cement outside the famed Maracana Stadium, along with the likes of Pele, Garrincha, Zico and Ronaldo. But in 2004, at the age of 18, Marta moved from Dois Riachos to Umeå, Sweden, on a professional contract with Umeå IK. She left her mother and siblings behind in Brazil to begin a journey into a world so different from the place of her birth and a world where she could play women’s soccer as a profession. Through Marta’s eyes and words, and through the family members she left behind, HERoics explores the social milieu between the two countries that helped Marta become the current and record five-time FIFA Player of the Year, a distinction no other male or female player has ever achieved.

El Chiquitín Fútbol Club (Sara Lozano)

In Spain, home of the reigning FIFA World Cup and European champions, arcane laws and old mores still pose strong barriers against women who seek to play the sport. But the El Chiquitín Fútbol Club deviates from the norm. Since 1995, the players, grandmothers and senior citizens in the old town of Jerez, suit up in the locker room, talk trash and play hard for their coach. The oldest player, an 85-year-old known by friends and teammates as La Trini, and her teammates share the love of playing soccer.

Kelly Smith (Hannah Storm)

At 32, Smith is undoubtedly the greatest female soccer player ever in the country that invented the sport. At Seton Hall University, Smith shattered numerous records and her number was retired, the first non-basketball athlete to have a number retired. She missed the 2003 season due to a torn ACL. When the WUSA women’s pro soccer league ceased operations in 2004, frustrations mounted for Smith. She returned home to Watford, England, and began “numbing [herself] with alcohol.” Smith has returned to her old goal-scoring and is poised to lead England’s to the Women’s World Cup.

The Save (Amanda Micheli)

Gina Castañeda, a deputy probation officer in Watsonville, Calif., is best known for coaching youth soccer to steer her players away from the rising gang turf wars among the largely Hispanic, immigrant population in her community. Castañeda was abandoned by her mother. Soccer saved her life, providing her some normalcy as she parlayed a high school career into an athletic scholarship at San Francisco State University. Through her work with the Aztecas, a team of mostly 20 teenage boys on probation, Castañeda seeks to make a difference in her community.

L’ Arbitre (Ruhi Hamid)

Marie Agnès Makengi Kapinga, otherwise known as Mere Malou, was the first international female soccer referee in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her career began in 1997 when her then husband and professional soccer player, Pierre Mtumbula Mulamba Ndaye (former player for The Leopards of Zaire), abandoned her and their four children to pursue his career in South Africa. In a 15-year refereeing career with numerous accolades from FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and CAF (the Confederation of African Football), Marie Agnès endured physical and verbal abuse from fans, but remains dedicated to passing the torch on to present and future generations of female referees in her country.

Lisa De Vanna (Safina Oberoi)

Lisa De Vanna is an explosive player. Coaches refer to her as “the kind of player who changes the game.” Arguably one of Australia’s best female players, she is also the Matildas most troublesome – known to get into fights with her teammates and opposing players. While many question why she’s still with the team, others contend the mercurial striker evokes both hostility and compassion. As the Matildas prepare for the Women’s World Cup, the tempestuous but generous player is set for a showcase on the sport’s biggest stage.

Watch ALL six shorts here.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

VIDEO – “Living in the Red” A Chicago Fire Section 8 Documentary Short

Living in the Red: The Chicago Fire Soccer Team Fan Base, Section 8 from Heather Eidson on Vimeo.

Monday’s have kinda becoming “supporters’ day” at FBM HQ and so it’s with great pleasure we present this documentary short about an American supporters group, Chicago Fire’s Section 8.

The FBM can trace its origins back to Wisconsin and in our youth we took in many Fire matches. Father’s Day 2002 was our first live soccer match and the legend was born. While we’re officially Major League Soccer neutral, the Fire has a nice little place in our soccer heart.

Nice to see filmmakers turn their cameras to such a fascinating aspect as supporters culture in the United States. We’ve been fascinated by it for sometime as one of the crucial components to the successful “selling” of the sport to casual fans. This short flick does a great job of highlighting those reasons.


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Better Know A Supporters Group – Black Army 1850


We’re back!

We continue our comprehensive coverage of American soccer culture with our series “Better Know a Supporters Group,” just like Steven Colbert’s “Better Know a District” from “The Colbert Report“. 

Our goal: to feature each of the MLS teams’ supporters groups. We’ve sent e-mails to each and every SG in Major League Soccer and soon you’ll be able to check all what each is all about and what awesomeness they have to contribute to our growing American soccer world.

When we devised this idea a while back it was cool to be able to see what each supporter group is about, but in light of the terrible, one-sided, anti-American, condescending profile of Philadelphia’s Sons of Ben SG by the British GQ (not even going to link to it to give them the site hits) we think its all the more important to give supporters groups in Major League Soccer the proper exposure and voice they deserve.

Today we feature our first supporters group from Los Angeles’ Chivas USA, Black Army 1850. BA 1850 is relatively new to the supporters section at the Home Depot Center, founded in 2010, but their focus and beliefs about supporters and their role in American soccer is a mature as much longer-standing supporters in MLS.

As told to the Free Beer Movement by Josef Zacher, one of the founders of Black Army 1850.

The Basics

SG Name: Black Army 1850

MLS Club: CD Chivas USA

Stadium: Home Depot Center (Carson, CA)

Year SG Founded: 2010

Section Name (if other than SG name): 138

Any other SGs apart of your section? None

Location of SG in Stadium (section #, side, direction): South East Corner, Section 138

The Meaty Questions

What are the origins of your groups’ name? Why the Black Army?

We see ourselves right now as a group that is focused on creating an army of die-hards that exclusively supports Chivas USA. While are numbers are not massive, we realize the potential of becoming the size of an army as Chivas USA establishes its own unique history and identity in Los Angeles. As our name indicates, we do not wear the traditional Chivas USA colors of red, white, and blue. We have chosen to follow a protocol that many European Ultras established long before us, by wearing black rather than the traditional team colors. For us, the black symbolically represents our intention to go against the grain of conformity in the Chivas family. We are not here to bask in the glory of a club that is in a different league and a different country. Like our club, we cherish the thought of being the “black sheep (in this case goat)” of the “sacred flock”. Our colors also provide an excellent back drop for our tifo displays on game day. Even though we do not wear the colors of Chivas USA on game day, we bleed the Chivas USA colors every day.

Significance of 1850?

We identify with 1850 because that is the year California and Los Angeles became officially part of the United States. Our group strives to establish Chivas USA a local team by identifying with Los Angeles and Southern California.

“Solamente Chivas USA”

We chose our motto “Solamente Chivas USA” because we wanted to make a clear separation between C.D. Guadalajara and Chivas USA. We understand that Chivas USA was created by the owners of C.D. Guadalajara, however we pride ourselves in making the distinction that Chivas USA plays in the United States and Major League Soccer (MLS). We are here to support an American team.

Favorite chants/songs?

Our group prefers an “authentic” ultra-style that is more chant and chorus based. Our drummer, John Sandate, created a great drum and chant chorus based on “Bro Hymn” by Pennywise. A crowd favorite is a Black Army version of the “tequila” song. Currently, we are working on “Chivas Blood, L.A. Heart” a chant that was inspired by a Morrissey song.

Why is being in the supporters section the “best seat in the house”?

Nothing can compare to the passion and loyalty from the terraces. They truly love their club and will show it for 90 minutes. These are the folks that truly represent what this game is all about.

Brag. What makes your SG one of the best supporters groups in MLS?

Our support for Chivas USA is pure and cannot be questioned. We pride ourselves on being independent and free of outside interference. There is no one that can buy our voices or opinions. If there is something that isn’t kosher at Chivas USA, we will call them out. One of our goals in the Black Army is to provide support for our club even beyond the stands. Our members are very active in community service and outreach projects. We work side by side with Chivas USA on projects such as Heal the Bay Beach Clean-ups and Blood Drives. Our supporters group also takes on an active role in promoting equality and acceptance for fans of the beautiful game. We are currently promoting the first-ever Equality Night at an upcoming Chivas USA match.

In terms of game day bragging, you can count on the Black Army to give everything it has for over 90 minutes, every game. If our club falls behind, we will only get louder. Win, lose or draw our Goats can count on our full support. Our loyalty is without question or condition.

Greatest game(s) in team history?

Surely, these will happen when we leave the HDC.

Predictions for this season?

With Robin Fraser at the helm, we know that there is massive potential for improvement and long term success. We have all witnessed his contributions at RSL and can see that he has what it takes to turn things around at Chivas USA. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this club climb back into the playoffs in 2011.

Why Major League Soccer? Why American soccer?

We love our country and our league! The vast majority of our members are also in the American Outlaws. In terms of MLS, we realize that this is the best league in the country at this time and the best opportunity for the American player to develop into professionals. The success of MLS is a key component to the overall success of the game in the United States. There is no doubting that the league has serious limitations, but we get the idea of supporting the domestic game. Only an idiot would expect MLS to be on par with leagues and clubs that have a 100 year head-start. We are going to truly enjoy growing with the MLS.

For more information and/or to join Black Army 1850 check out their website.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

The Drinkers Guide To The Women’s World Cup (Part 1)

Expect big, pro-German crowds for this summer’s Women’s World Cup
By Jobst Elster / Senior Bier Correspondent

A two part series focused on football, beer and kick-ass German cities

Check out our sampler from yesterday, “Sudsy Facts About the Women’s World Cup”.

It’s been five years since German movie producer Soenke Wortmann released his ‘sports-umentary’ classic “Ein Sommermaerchen” (A Summer Fairytale) following the German Football team’s 3rd place finish at the 2006 FIFA Men’s World Cup. It was truly a fairytale summer … I somehow hit the lottery and scored tickets to see my beloved Germans play five times including their nail-biting penalty shootout victory over the Argentineans (thank god a 19-year old Messi was benched) at the Olympiastadion in Berlin; I spent five weeks at home visiting family, friends, and celebrating the revival of German football and witnessed my homeland’s successful and non-violent hosting of the world’s biggest sporting event.

To make that perfect footballing summer even more memorable, I made sure to pursue my other passion, beer drinking, to the fullest. Since I lost the urge to binge drink long ago and never got the point of a keg stand, I was unhampered to enjoy Deutsches Bier for beer’s sake and soak up the hometown flavor one stein at a time: Paulaner Helles, Augustiner Braeu and Prinzregent Luitpold Weissbier  in Munich;  Dortmunder Aktien Brau (DAB) in Dortmund; Berliner Pils and many lighter but flavorful lagers along my way.

Fast-forward to 2011, again it’s summer time, and again Germany is hosting a FIFA World Cup, this time the Sixth women’s edition (WWC) featuring the 16 best national teams in the world representing six continents. While neither plane nor match tickets have been secured this time around, I will do my best to help navigate the host cities and their brewed delights as well as offer up some nifty ‘Bier und Kick’ pairings a la FBM’s ‘Suds Up’ column.

Anheuser-Busch. NEIN! … If you are like most WWC visitors, you’d probably rather not pay big Euros for a Budweiser or Bud Light (still the official beer of the FIFA World Cup). While it is major blasphemy to have A-B sponsor the suds in Germany of all places, commerce and sponsor sell-outs are a fact of life and something we must all get over. At the time of this writing, we ‘re not certain whether A-B struck a deal with German brewer Bitburger, allowing fans to purchase small quantities of Bit, its flagship pilsner, at the world cup venues. This was the case in 2006, prompting us stubborn Germans to wait in ‘Bit lines’ for hours while the Budweiser taps remained untouched.

Our stops.
Wilkommen in Berlin 

Berlin is Germany’s old/new capital city and of the most diverse and colorful places you’ll ever visit. Football is one of many pastimes here and thanks to a strong 2nd league showing, Hertha Berlin, the big football club in town, is back in the 1. Bundesliga. While the ‘old lady’ does not kick-off its 2011/12 campaign until early August, Germany’s Women will host Canada at the historic Olympiastadion on Sunday, June 26th at 6pm German time.  The 73,680 capacity stadium will be sold out and in addition to hosting the first game, will include a short opening ceremony. Oddly enough, the opening match is the only one assigned to Berlin so don’t get too attached to venue or city. In terms of beer culture, Berlin is not on my top destination list, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good brews to be had. There is a smattering of decent Pilsners worth sampling with Berliner Kindl Jubilaeums Pilsner worth a go and definitely the smoother (and higher octane) representative of the BK lagers. Look for the ‘made in Berlin’ slogans and find Berliner Pilsner, the original East Germany beer first brewed in 1963 (a true baby in German beer circles), but since then modernized to reflect a global, future focused brand.  Find it throughout the city and go for ‘Fassbier’ (from the tap) for a refreshing fizzy drink. On the flipside, sometimes traditional and established doesn’t mean good. With that said, I suggest steering clear of the ‘tourist trap’ beer, the famous Berliner Weisse, a lower alcohol content, tart, wheat beer more often than not served with ‘Schuss’, a shot of red or green fruit syrup, designed to cover up the sourness.

Onward to Dresden

Rudolf Harbig Stadion, named after the Dresden-native track and field star of the 1930’s, is the home of 2nd division club Dynamo Dresden and host to four WWC matches including the US team’s first group C game vs. North Korea on June 28th. While the US will hopefully easily handle Kim Jong-il’s North Korean’s, the July 5th matchup between Canada and Nigeria could prove to be an epic battle for who joins host Germany in the elimination rounds. The Dresden-area boasts several delicious lagers including local Watzke Pils and the more famous Radeberger Pils and is enticingly close to the Czech border and the beer meccas of Pilzen and Budweis (the original ‘king of beers’).  If you are ready to ditch the Pilsners and try something sweeter, don’t leave without having had a famous Schwarzbier (black lager). Koestritzer is a regional fave, one of the oldest and most popular black lagers in Germany, and brewed about 60 miles southwest of Dresden in Bad Koestritz, a stone’s throw from Gera.

Welcome to the good ole South

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
Augsburg is one of the host cities with a football-only stadium built in 2009. The WWC venue is the home of FC Augsburg, a freshly promoted 1. Bundesliga team, playing in Bavaria’s 3rd largest city. The 24,000+ capacity arena will have 4 games including Sweden and England. There’s no doubt that these games will sell out, if for no other reason than to make a day trip to big brother city Munich, located about 40 miles SE of town.

While I am honestly not familiar with any Augsburger beer gems, I do have to share one of my favorite beer finds, located in Bamberg, roughly 2 hours north. Here you will find the famous brewery tavern Schlenkerla and its signature Rauchbier (smoke beer). Ask any first time sipper and this smoky beauty will jolt your taste buds and have you believing you just drank a generous helping of smoked ham. Feeling really tough? Couple the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier with a Laphroaig Islay single malt scotch whisky and satisfy even the most ferocious craving for smoked meat … hairy chest guaranteed!

Speaking of that day trip to Munich … Go to the Hofbraeuhaus for a Stein or two of HB Original, some Bavarian home cooking and more than your share of ‘chicken dance’ music. Of course it’s kitschy but it will put you in a good mood especially if your national team just lost its world cup match.

Motoring to the auto and high tech hotspot

Next destination, Sinsheim; a somewhat sleepy town in southwest Germany, historically known for its impressive Auto & Technik Museum featuring 1000s of classic cars, airplanes, and even a Russian space shuttle. These days, the bigger attraction is the Rhein-Neckar-Arena, a 30,000+ capacity stadium, built for 1899 Hoffenheim, the local Bundesliga club, and funded in large part by local hero and SAP Software boss Dietmar Hopp. Seeing Sinsheim as an increasing player in the German football scene and now even hosting WWC matches, is very impressive, especially since four years ago Hoffenheim was struggling in the 3rd German league. The arena will host four WWC games including the USA vs. Columbia Group C match on July 2nd and the 3rd place match on July   16th.

In terms of local beer recommendations, I am somewhat biased since I grew up around Speyer, a small city close by, situated along the picturesque Rhine River (and home to the Kaiserdom, the famous Imperial Cathedral of Speyer).  While some of the country’s finest Riesling wines come from this region, Speyer is a must stop-over when it comes to ‘slap your momma’ delicious home brew. The Domhof is the local micro brewery and serves up four distinct beers including Helles (light), Dunkles (dark), Hefeweizen and Bock.

Believe me, I have tried them all, over and over again, yet still make it my 2nd stop (after saying hi to mom and dad) once on German soil. Beyond the beer, the food is fantastic as well, and a recently renovated Hotel Domhof is the perfect place to pass out after a long night of sampling. If you can’t make the Speyer detour, I recommend you grab an Eichbaum Ureich Pils, an herby lager brewed close by in Mannheim. While it’s not fancy or near as tasty as northern-style Pilsners like Jever, the ‘Friedhofwasser’ (cemetery water) as it’s affectionately called due to its proximity to the local graveyard, is worth a few Euros.

This concludes part 1 of our 2 part FIFA Women’s World Cup drinker’s guide. While you spend the next week or so sampling some of these tasty recommendations and I sober up from all of the grueling ‘research’, we’ll continue our whirlwind tour with beer and WWC coverage and hit Frankfurt, the venue for the WWC final on July 17th as well as several hardcore football towns in the heart of the German Ruhrpott. Our visit concludes in Wolfsburg, a city best known for Fahrvergnuegen and the ‘people’s car’ and less for top notch German football (well at least until recently). 

About Jobst

I can be reached at 
[email protected] or on Twitter @TheRealFutboler. We’re just getting started with, so feel free to stop by and let us know what you think. All feedback is much appreciated. 

Auf Wiedersehen.

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Photo Essay – Gold Cup Semi-Final: USMNT vs. Panama


The United States Men's National Team booked their ticket to Pasadena and the Gold Cup Final against Mexico on Saturday. Here are a few selected shots from the pre-game festivities at American Outlaws: Houston's chapter bar, the march (or train ride) to the match, the crowd, and the game.

Phun With Photoshop: Blatter is a Deutschbag


Original Photo: FIFA President/Strongman Sepp Blatter announcing Germany as the host of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Don’t get the reference? See here.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sudsy Facts About the Women’s World Cup 2011


Sunday begins the sixth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup with Germany playing first time hosts and pre-tournament favorites. The United States (two-time winners and current #1 in the FIFA rankings), Brazil, Norway (one-time winner), and China are all regular contenders for the world’s best.

Tomorrow we’ll bring you part one of an incredible journey through all the WWC’s host cities and the German beers that deliciously flow through them. Even if you can’t make it to Germany this summer it’s a must read for fans of German beer and the the women’s game.

This guest post was written by Jobst Elster who lived in Germany for over 20 years and attended the 2006 World Cup there as well. He’s also the head writer at his new site, The Real Futbol. You can follow him on Twitter, too

·         USA’s Kristine Lilly is the only player to have competed in all five editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. If the nearly 40 year old (as of July) is the oldie but goldie of the tournament than her brewskie of choice has got to be Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier, a classic German wheat beer from the world’s oldest brewery (getting drunk since 1040).

·         Germany’s National Women’s squad has re-defined ‘dream(y) team’ with 5 members of its U-20 lineup recently posing for the German edition of Playboy. While the Fraueleins’ spread has done just that- spread the word on the sexy-side of the WWC, we were sorely disappointed to discover Hugh Hefner’s quenches his full-frontal thirst with (drum roll) Bavaria Premium Pils, a Dutch import and Heineken Mini-Me.

·         Of of the teams participating in 2011 only two will be coached by foreigners, the U.S. by Pia Sundhage, a Swede, and Canada by Carolina Morace from Italy.  That brings the total of foreign coaches from all WWC competitions to only five. In contrast, four of the five African teams in last year’s MWC were managed by foreigners and the highest profile one is undoubtedly Fabio Capello who leads England. What’s the cerveza tie-in? The Women’s game and the apparent loyalty to the domestic national coach reminds of the traditional German beer brewers and their strict adherence to the Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Law) of 1516 limiting the ingredients used in the brewing process. Although the law has since been repealed, there’s something to be said for tradition (and clever marketing).

·         The number of participants in FIFA Women’s World Cup™ qualifiers has almost tripled from 45 teams in 1991 to 122 in 2011. The number of qualification matches for the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ has also risen considerably from 110 in 1991 to 355 in 2011. This translates to more beer being enjoyed by more men, women and children (no drinking age in many Asian and European countries) in more places.

·         While many experts are predicting the likes of Brazil, Germany, Sweden and the U.S. to run the table during the group stages and end up battling for the world cup trophy, the favorites based on  the all essential ‘per capita beer consumption’ measure stack up a little bit differently. According to a trusty Wikipedia entry, Germany is still king with 110 liters/per capita consumed, followed by Australia, England (well the UK) and the U.S. Beer enthusiasts should be thankful that neither the Czechs nor the Irish qualified for WWC because they rank one and two when it comes to global beer swilling.

Want more? Tomorrow we’ll post part one of Tour de Bierland for the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

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VIDEO – “They Don’t Respect Us”

Hey… did you say you needed a little something to fire you up for Saturday’s game?


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Happy One Year Anniversary “Go Go USA”

Yeah… that was a nice moment.
Almost lost in all the run-up to the Gold Cup Final on Saturday versus Mexico is the fact that today is the one-year anniversary of LD’s epic last minute (second?) goal against Algeria to propel the USMNT to the top of the group and the knock-out rounds of the 2010 World Cup.

Just a few videos from that momentous day.

Where were you when Donovan scored?

Ian Darke:

Andres Cantor:

From the Stadium, Reverse Angel from TV camera (never seen this before!):

The World Reacts:

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Troubling Time for Supporters in New England

New England Revolution marketing supporters and their section “The Fort”.
Photo Credit: The Drug is Football
At this point in American soccer I thought we were really past this. I thought that, for the most part, Major League Soccer teams had decided that supporters were a good thing. Yeah, sure they occasionally dropped the f-bomb and, oh yeah, we’d really appreciate it if you left the smoke bombs at home, but you all keep on doing what looks good on TV and to the rest of the fans at the stadium… cheering your brains out for the home team.


Last weekend the New England Revolution took to the field at the massive Gillette Stadium against the Chicago Fire and what occurred around the 60th minute of this match can only be described as madness. The solid New England site, “The Drug is Football” has documented the incidents well and we”ll be borrowing their descriptions liberally.
“What can only be described as a planned operation took place against the Fort (the supporters section for Revs fans) and Revolution Supporters Groups. Gillette Stadium security, TeamOps, went about ejecting and in multiple cases having the Foxborough Police Department make arrests. The start of all of this is from the “You suck asshole” chant that is routinely done around the league after goalkeepers take a goalkick.”
From various accounts of the incident, which you can also read in more detail at two other Revolution sites, “The Indirect Kick” and “The Bent Musket”, supporters of the Revs were forcibly removed from the stadium after security responded to multiple complaints over language (during this match and all season) coming from “the Fort”. Of others who were not removed many left the game in silent protest of the security details’ tactics.

Whether or not this was a premeditated operation is unknown., but members of “the Fort” noticed an increased security presence during the match, more security supervisors from TeamOps (which is owned by Revs team owner Robert Kraft), and the lack of the Revs Girls who normally roam freely around the section cheering with the supporters. An omonous foreshadowing of things to come.

“The Drug is Football” reported that at least 10-12 people were arrested and more than 20 people have been banned from Gillette from the match. Their account again:
“One person who was arrested has gotten in touch with us, due to pending legal action we will not publish his name however he told us he was arrested for disorderly conduct. We witnessed him being arrested and he was peacefully leaving The Fort along with many others. He also has told us that when he was arrested by the Foxborough Police Department he was not read his Miranda Rights, when he asked he was told by the arresting officer “Fuck your rights”, in addition when they ID’d him he gave his military ID to which the officer said to him “You must be in the Navy because you’re acting like a pussy”. 
Obviously we cannot blame this directly on the team, but these actions by the Foxborough PD are appalling and the disrespect they gave to an active member of the military is shameful considering we are a nation still fighting multiple wars. These officers may be or have been members of rival branches of the military but there is no excuse for bringing that into their job. One cannot help but think this all could have been easily avoided.”
The Revolution’s Chief Operating Officer Brian Bilello confirms what sparked the incident (full statement here):
“Unfortunately there was an issue last night in the fort which was a culmination of multiple weeks of complaints from many of our STH who do not sit in the fort. This was related to one particular chant which our supporters’ liaison has spoken to the supporter group leaders about on multiple occasions this season.”
While Bilello calls the situation from last Saturday an “issue” for the members of the supporters groups (the Rebellion and the Midnight Riders… both previously profiled in our “Better Know a Supporters Group” series) and other unaffiliated fans in “the Fort” this was more than just an issue. His PR backing of the security’s actions will only make the current situation worse.

Why TeamOps decided Saturday’s game was the day they were going to come down on “YSA” or any other poor language we may never know. Given the treatment some supporters experienced the response by Bilello appears short-sighted and tone deaf. Blaming supporters without giving a hint of remorse to how they were treated or maybe acknowledge that TeamOps may have been over-zealous will haunt him and the team for a long time.

The New England Revolution are one of the founding clubs of MLS (and the only team still with its original crest) and the former home of some great American soccer players including Steve Ralson, Clint Dempsey, and Taylor Twellman. The team missed out on several MLS Cup titles in the league’s early years and, since success in the in the 2007 U.S. Open Cup, the team has struggled missing the playoffs in 2010.

Gillette Stadium, home to the NFL’s Patriots and located 30 minutes south of Boston in Foxborough, is the home of the Revolution, but even decent crowd sizes, something that has been hard to come by lately, are swallowed up by the nearly 70,000 seat behemoth. The team’s owner, Robert Kraft, one of the saviors of MLS in its darkest years has been accused of indifference to the team and whether or not that’s completely accurate it’s easy to see why that charge has been leveled against him.

“The Fort” during last Wednesday’s poorly attended TFC match
and what it might look like each game going forward.
Photo Credit: The Drug is Football
What occurred on Saturday night at Gillette was the culmination of years of difficult relations between the Revolution Front Office, the ever rotating set of TeamOps security personnel, and the supporters of the Revs.

Rebellion Vice President Brendan Schimmel said, “The failure is everywhere. The FO has to respond to complaints from STHs, in doing so they risk alienating a majority. Security, for their tactics employed being perceived as disorganized, inconsistent and indiscriminate. Everyone and their mother knows the behavior at a Pats game is ten times worse, except they don’t have one section they can scapegoat.

“Although, I can assure you the FO did intervene before security took action Saturday night allowing us the chance to curtail the profanity. The expectation that anyone had the power to prevent a crowd like this from swearing is unrealistic and the result was unfortunate. The response to these requests is what forced Security’s hand. This is a bad situation that put good people in difficult positions.”

“I love the Revs. But the feeling of being treated like criminals in your own house is frustrating,” he continued.

“Celebrating supporters for their joint road trip to Red Bull Arena one week and then having ejections occur for the same behavior a week later at home is inconsistent and it brings multiple underlying issues that linger with many supporters to the surface.”

Schmimmel even acknowledged that Revolution supporters have been working to stamp out “YSA” as it is offensive, annoying, sophomoric, and unoriginal. Both the Rebellion and Midnight Riders released a joint “Fan of Code Conduct” which looks to rid the supporters section of such actions. Unfortunately, running a supporters group is much like herding cats and cultural change takes time.

The mess that transpired only serves to highlight the bigger problem the Revolution organization has… that they are stuck in what is commonly referred to as MLS 1.0. The fact that newcomers (and even some older clubs) to MLS have soccer-specific stadiums, supporter friendly policies and expectations, and successful marketing that shows positive growth in their team’s area. The Revolution has none of these markers of a successful MLS franchise.

And while Schimmel points to “healthly” relationships with the Revs FO, the rot in the club comes not from well-meaning people behind desks, but a lack of understanding coming from the ownership of what it takes to become a successful American soccer franchise. Look at the Revs hesitation in signing a “designated player” (Benny Feilhaber basically fell into their lap via the allocation order rule and even then it seemed as though they were going to pass), look at the lack of progress of finding the team a proper soccer home, look at the limited marketing and family-sanitized approach to game day operations and one can see the frustrations underlining what transpired last weekend.

Where do the Revolution and its supporters go from here?

Schimmel wondered out loud, “Honestly, there is no one solution that can probably satisfy everyone. Regardless of the advances we make, overall, the perception of our ownership and the venue we play in will always serve to create discord.”

“The incident has ballooned into something far bigger than a simplified argument about a fan’s right to swear. It is now for better or for worse serving as a referendum on how the club’s most loyal fans feel about the organization,” he said.

Teams across the league use its supporters to market the team, the atmosphere they create is the stuff that draws the TV cameras in, and is, more often than not, celebrated by the fans in the rest of the stadium. In the cavernous Gillette “the Fort” is often the only audible crowd noise and when the majority of the section left the match the difference was clear. The Revolution can’t both promote “the Fort” culture and then actively restrict some of the elements (and off-color comments) that come from it.

This is a crucial time for American soccer in New England. After drawing 65,000 to the same place for the U.S.-Spain match the Revolution drew barely drew 6,500 to a midweek match against Toronto FC (although it was during the Stanley Cup Game Seven with the Boston Bruins) and 14,500 to the Fire match. The potential for growth in the Boston-area is there and has been since the Revolution’s arrival in 1996.

Stories like this one only heighten the perception that the ownership isn’t serious about American soccer and putting down solid roots. With much of the American soccer world’s eyes on Kansas City last week and seeing their ownership’s commitment to American soccer and the positive working relationship the club has with its supporters (including its own members bar!) just shows that it can be done.

Many long-time season ticket holders and members of the supporters groups are questioning their commitment to a club they’ve given so much support to, but that the club has given so little back to them. If the actions from Saturday’s game and Bilello’s comments are to be taken as evidence, the team appears to have put its lot in with family-sanitized game day “atmosphere” (which research shows the family dollar in American soccer is credibly fleeting) rather than the supporters who are there game in and game out. If the Revolution loses “the Fort” then they may have just lost the entire plot.

The Revolution supporters have meetings scheduled with the Front Office, but only time will tell if American soccer in the Boston-area can survive such a disaster that occurred this past Saturday. At this point both sides are talking past each other with the Revs FO concerned about the language and the supporters concerned about their treatment by security personnel and other issues festering underneath this latest incident.

In the end the best solution to this problem might come from the most simple idea. One commentator wrote that to end the “YSA” chant just “put the fucking ball in the net and there won’t be a goal kick.”

There you go.

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