Against modern football! Fuck Greed! Fuck Capitalism!
Are you fucking serious?
No I mean it... are you fucking serious?
I recently saw this picture turned Meme on Facebook…
It made me think about the occasional rearing of the Against Modern Football statement in MLS and how ridiculous it is, but also made me think about if there is something to learn from it.
Major League soccer with its single entity structure is the epitome of all that is ‘modern football’. It is a league built upon a corporation who is making money, selling TV rights, selling advertising, and at its core, merely selling shares to investors. It is impossible to be against modern football and be a part of it at the same time. Those such as these morons from NYC only make all of us look stupid, and it doesn’t help advance the sport or the culture in the US.
It’s important to understand where the Against Modern Football mentality comes from. Personally I quite enjoy reading STAND, an AMF ‘zine from England. It gives a good look into the values and principles of the AMF movement from people who actually can claim to be part of it without looking foolish. It’s highly worth your time.
The AMF movement really became what it is today in the early part of this century. Many European clubs were after money, ticket prices increased, the fan culture was suppressed. The lower middle class fans that supported their clubs were seen as liabilities, especially with the rise of violence. This liability prevented clubs from making money and kept away big sponsors money, businessmen, upper middle class and families; all of whom were seen as the path to bigger financial success.
Wimbledon and Austria Salzburg are two names that resonate in the AMF movement and are indeed the horror stories. Wimbledon’s owners felt that investing in the current infrastructure of the club was not worth it. The team was moved to Milton Keynes almost 60 miles away from the London neighborhood, a process familiar in the US but unheard of in Europe. The fans unable to support the new MK Dons, formed AFC Wimbledon in 2002. AFC Wimbledon is currently in League 2 enjoying success in fighting form the 9th level of English soccer to the 4th.
SV Austria Salzburg became FC Red bull Salzburg in 2005 when the energy drink company purchased and nearly erased the club history. The colors were changed, name was changed and crest changed, moves that alienated the fan base. Many European clubs were formed as social clubs, and recreational teams for factory workers. These clubs have strong roots in their community and are part of their history. This is why the passions run so deep.
Passion for your team is something that fans of any team and any sport can understand. The fans, supporters, ultra in places where the sport is part of the fabric of existence have something that we don’t in MLS. People who feel the need to be part of the fan movement. The powerful Ultra groups, at the center of the AMF movement, can afford to pick the best of the best to be their members, and thus strengthen their power, political or physical. In MLS, even if you decide to say you are Ultras, you are not afforded this luxury. Supporters groups of any name in the US must market themselves and fight to grow and maintain their numbers. We do not have history, hundreds of years of history. Seattle/Portland/Montreal fans… sorry but you don’t have history like Europe so shut it; you aren’t nearly as special as you think you are, we’re all in the same boat.
So what can we learn from the AMF movement?
If we are to support MLS teams you cannot claim to be against modern football. If you want to support the NASL or USL you might have a stronger claim, but still will look foolish… those leagues want money too.
The supporter culture of soccer is unique form that of any other sport and is still one that is developing in this country. In order to gain the power that the supporters around the world have we must buy into MLS and its extremely ‘modern’ practice s in order to buy ourselves further power. We have a completely different structure of our leagues and how our teams came to be; we must work with what we have.
Supporters must keep MLS and their teams from meddling in their affairs; independence is of the utmost importance to keep from becoming an extension of MLS’ marketing department. We market ourselves, we market our clubs but we must do it our own way and maintain control. There are far to many examples of teams and MLS taking advantage of the hard work of supporters. There needs to be a delicate balance struck between team and supporter to allow a mutually beneficial relationship without the supporter giving up too much.
These are not our teams in the US they are MLS’. It is a key difference between us and much of the world. We all know that in our hearts they are absolutely our teams, just like our counterparts around the world, and really any sports fan.
As the 2016 season starts all across the league today I urge you to find a supporters group that works for you. Fight for you independence and for the rights of the fans, work to shape this league to work for the fans and not just corporate interests, but understand that we do not exist without it.
We cannot be against modern football but we can work to shape it to fit our mold.