Major League Soccer fans have adopted a rather vulgar tradition over the past several years of chanting “You suck a–hole!’ at opposing goalies as they launch goal kicks down the field. The tradition has become popular among supporters at several MLS stadiums, and the league has tried tirelessly to put a stop to it. The New York Red Bulls announced a new plan earlier this week.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Red Bulls have notified their three fan groups — the Empire Supporters Club, the Garden State Ultras and the Viking Army — that they will give the groups $500 each for every home game they go without belting out the “YSA” chant. However, the money can only be earned in $2,000 increments, meaning there has to be a string of four-straight games without the chant.
“We can use this money for reimbursement for nearly anything we do, from buying batteries for the megaphone to offsetting costs for bus trips,” the Empire Supports Club told SI on Monday.
Real Salt Lake has also warned their fans to put a stop to the YSA chants, although the team is not offering any monetary reward.
“We’re trying to appeal to our fans’ sense of class,” RSL VP of Communications Trey Fitz-Gerald said. “We’ve got this ‘Believe’ chant that is awesome. We are the only club in the 100-plus year history of American soccer to have a team anthem created by one of its own fans. We think that raises the bar a little bit. We think we should try to hold ourselves to a higher standard and not use ‘YSA’.”
Both RSL and New York have sent letters to fans warning them of the priviledges that could be taken away if they continue the YSA chant, including the loss of flags, banners, smoke bombs and the revocation of parking passes and other luxuries given to the groups.
Why the desperation? As Deadspin pointed out, MLS’s television deals with ESPN, NBC and Univision all expire after 2014. If the league wants to present itself as a family-friendly form of entertainment, the YSA chant weakens its position. The Red Bulls may be onto something with the money, but I doubt other team’s fans are going to stop. Like a high school girl whose daddy told her not to go out with the 18-year-old boy, it’s just more fun when someone forbids you from doing it.
An example of the chant it below, though it is obviously NSFW: