Streamer Gate: Clear the Bullpens
The date was August 12, 2017 and it started just like any other summer night. Families and friends all gathered at the Slugger Field diamond to watch the rivalry between USL clubs Louisville City FC and FC Cincinnati. Supporters on both sides were expecting an entertaining night, unfortunately, for some FC Cincinnati fans, their idea of entertaining differed from that of the LCFC security guards.
Less than a month prior to this game, FCC and LCFC squared off at Slugger Field and all seemed fine. As Chris Marshall, Pride Norden Chapter Head, mentioned, “After the July match, we literally met the other SG leaders, exchanged hugs, scarves, and said our goodbyes and that we look forward to partying with them in August.” It was at this game in July when Streamer Gate began. As many supporters know, smoke, streamers, and other projectiles are part of the atmosphere used by supporters groups (SG) all over the country. In many cases, the front office (FO) of the home team will give visiting teams a list of banned items so that the SG are aware of what they can and cannot bring into the stadium. During the July match, streamers were thrown and a LCFC fan (@LouCitySting) posted a photo of the mess that FCC fans had made on the field. As you can see below, there is not much of a mess made and this was the beginning of what would become Streamer Gate.
With less than a month to plan for their next match, it was only made sense that steamers would be part of the match. As Chris White said, “We checked the code of conduct specifically for streamers and they were not included in the banned items.” Therefore, FCC SG felt that they were okay with purchasing streamers and distributing them to the supporters. Chris added that, “Once we were in Louisville and the streamers had been distributed to everyone, we received word that Louisville had changed the list of banned items to include streamers.” He also mentioned that he told everyone as soon as he found out but figured it would be a short night because there was no chance that message could be relayed to the whole group prior to kickoff.
Jason McGlone, a member of The Pride, was not there in July but did make the trip on the Bailey Bastards bus from Bucketheads to Slugger Field. Having only recently moved to Cincinnati from Illinois and not knowing a lot of where the hate for LCFC came home aside from being a local rivalry, I assumed that much of that came from fans or SGs. During my time interviewing members of FCCs SGs, I have come to find that the frustration comes from the LCFC FO. As Jason said, “We marched in and it seemed pretty drama-free. In fact, once we marched in, I walked over into the Slugger Field concourse to hit the restroom and came across the Coopers (LCFC SG) march.” He mentioned that if there was any “beef” between FCC SGs and LCFC SGs, he would have caught wind of it but instead, he was able to stand there and watch their drummers for a bit before heading back without a word, or even look, from anyone. Jason discusses the back and forth between FCC and LCFC fans as, “100% normal jawing that you would expect from any sports rivalry.” This perspective is important because it proves that much of the frustration felt by the FCC fans on August 12th came from the FO and their lack of communication.
Casey is another member of The Pride who had a different experience that night. Casey and his girlfriend met 3 of her adolescent cousins at the game. Her cousins live in Louisville and were wanting to cheer for FCC with the rest of the fans. Casey’s girlfriend was one of the fans who was thrown out of the game and he was then left to care for her cousins on his own. From his perspective, he observed that security did not try to single out individuals who were throwing streamers but instead decided to just throw out the whole first row. Included in that first row was an older couple who he stated were peacefully watching the game with young kids. Casey’s biggest issue was how he and his girlfriend felt after she was escorted. “We somehow felt we had to justify and apologize to her cousins parents about bringing the kids to what should have been a family friendly night filled with soccer traditions of chanting and throwing streamers but instead turned into a hostile environment where we felt we and others were treated unfairly and were unwanted.”
Fans of soccer all over the world can agree that some of the actions of the security guards were unnecessary and over the top. It is also important to note the LCFCs FOs lack of soccer tradition knowledge. As Casey stated and what many fans of American soccer know, streamers are a part of the experience and it is not intended as a malicious act or used to ensue a riot. In the end, LCFCs lack of communication caused fans to have a poor experience, many of whom were not involved in throwing streamers. In the end, no fan makes it a point to cause any harm or problems. Though I am a fan of FCC and a member of The Pride, I was not in attendance at either game and took this as an opportunity to learn more about this great rivalry. After hearing from everyone, is seems to be universally understood that LCFCs FO made a rash decision last minute that caused mayhem and as a result proved that Louisville is indeed full of shit and more shit.