Time to Step up Columbus

In light of the recent incidents now widely reported at BMO Field during a match two weeks ago between the Crew and TFC, I have a simple question: Does trouble now follow the Crew around? The incidents are chronicled here.

This post is not meant to minimize the Crew’s accomplishment. Sigi Schmid has built his team the right way, showing patience with youngsters through a tough 2006 and 2007 campaign while adding some choice foreign players like Guille Barros Schelotto and making a trade for Alejandro Moreno.

But what does concern me is that a team that continued to lose market share and real fans has resorted to encouraging the sort of element MLS worked 12 years to keep away from games to follow the team.

The Crew are on the verge of winning the Supporters Shield for the second time in team history. They are also right now the biggest threat to Houston’s throne atop MLS.  Many in the American Footballing community love what the Crew has done on the field and wan to embrace this organization and team, myself included as an example of how it should be done in MLS.

Let’s Review Some Earlier Incidents:

When I discussed the Toronto situation openly and honestly and tried to engage TFC fans on my CSRN show the complaints about me being “too soft on TFC” all seemed to come from Crew fans. Days later several Crew fans were shouting racial obscenities at New England players as caught on You Tube. The Columbus fans also were caught throwing glass bottles and coins on the pitch during the 2nd half of the match.

In defiance of a league wide ban Columbus fans began sprayed confetti and streamers on opposing players while attempting a corner. Now I cannot recall the specific match but it was done. Why the security did not confiscate the items at the gate is beyond anyone’s comprehension. The league wide ban was more or less enforced throughout the rest of the league. When pressed on the situation at Crew Stadium, Columbus GM, Mark McCullers blamed Toronto FC for the trouble league wide and avoided totally the issue of racist fans.

July s infamous incident against West Ham United in a friendly: West Ham has a reputation for having rowdy fans, but we’ve hosted English clubs before and never had trouble. The poster promoting the match was an implicit call for some sort of nationalistic pride from the fans, which often times in the past has evolved into violence when West Ham is involved. I’m as nationalistic as it comes when this game is involved whether it be the US National Team, Superliga, or even the Caribbean club cup which USL side Puerto Rico participates in. But saying on an official poster promoting the match “we take on the Brits, you push us over the top,” is in fact way over the top  and can be seen as encouraging rowdy behavior. How would Tigres supporters have taken a poster in Denver prior to the Tecate Cup match in July ago that read ” Colorado fans put us over the top against the Mexicans?” The poster and its message strongly indicate to me the Crew management has no interest in stopping the continued incidents at Crew Stadium.

This is not to mention the incidents at MLS First Kick at Crew Stadium when TFC came to town.

Given all of this, no need exists for the Crew to continue allowing unruly and undesirable elements to follow the team at home and on the road. Regardless of what any Columbus fan may claim just from a layman’s perspective watching on television, the atmosphere around Columbus games has changed and not for better this season. With success on the pitch comes responsibility off it: Time to step up Columbus.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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5 Responses to Time to Step up Columbus

  1. Brian says:

    This is beyond moronic.

    A few very isolated incidents and you're ready to throw very passionate supporters out of the stadium

    I'm not from a Crew fan, and not even from ohio. But what has happened this year in columbus is amazing. If you don't like a passionate fanbase then sit on the other side of the stadium.

  2. Nick says:

    You've got to be kidding me. Only an idiot or someone who has done absolutely no research on the TFC or West Ham incidents would blame the crew fans. A mob waits outside the gates harassing women and children and suddenly it's our fault? Sorry, we had to get to the bus. West Ham fans come into our supporters section throwing beer and it's our fault? No glass bottles were thrown and it was ONE guy how yelled the slur, not many like you decide to post without any regards for the facts. Funny you didn't mention Joseph flipping the fans off right before while the rest of his team was dancing in front of the supporters section. This bias reporting doesn't accomplish anything.

  3. Pingback: Step Up? « An American Game

  4. huricano says:

    I like your blog, and will not be as stridently and unreasonably critical as the other comments, but maybe this article is a little over the top. Hopefully dangerous hooliganism will never take root in U.S. soccer, and to date there is little evidence it is threatening to. A few scattered incidents should not be taken out of context as an excuse for strict measures against fan groups, who need support as our sport grows and seeks passionate followers amongst the American public.

  5. Allen says:

    Kartik, I would love to simply flame you but I'm sure you would attribute my response as an indication of what's wrong in Columbus… I'm the one who organized the bus trip to Toronto and I can give you a clear and unbiased accounting of what happened. Even the Toronto Sun gave a good review of the incident and even the Toronto Sun didn't blame Crew fans. The fact that you have arrived at your rediculous conclusions without firsthand experience is simply lazy and an attempt to preach to the masses rather than finding out the facts and reporting them as they are. If you have the ethical fortitude to hear the truth from me and the parents of the kids in my group, contact me. I doubt I'll hear from you. I don't think you want the truth…

    Since I doubt you read the Toronto Sun article – here's the link:

    And, if you're too lazy to click the link or scared to find what it says… Here's the first 2 paragraphs that sums it all up!

    “Inside the stadium they were throwing beers, while outside they were throwing fists.

    Questions are now being raised about the security at BMO Field and the antics of some of Toronto FC's notoriously rowdy fans after a visiting group of Columbus Crew supporters were led by security guards straight into a pack of brawler TFC fans, according to Crew and TFC fans who were there. “

    Do you notice that it says Crew AND TFC fans agree what happened?

    My e-mail address is talon926@hotmail.com… I'm waiting…

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