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New York Red Bulls Paying Fans To Stop Chanting ‘You Suck Asshole’

  • Zach Berger

Before getting into the crux of this story, let’s take a quick look at the “You Suck Asshole” — or YSA — movement that has been sweeping through Major League Soccer. Basically, in a growing number of MLS stadiums, the hometown fans will scream out those three words just as the opposing team’s goalkeeper is taking a goal kick. YSA is sometimes used on corner kicks too.

Here’s an example, for science:

As you can see, it’s a very multi-faceted, complicated chant. The entire crowd goes “Ohhhhhhhhhhh…” during the build-up to the goal kick, and just as the keeper makes contact with the ball, they scream out, “You suck asshole!” It makes absolutely no sense and isn’t a distraction since they do it after the kick, but it’s very childishly amusing and I do not take issue with it.

On the other hand, the MLS and the the teams that have fans who take part in YSA are trying to eradicate it from the sport. Some have issued warnings. Some have issued pleas to the fans to stop. But no team has gone as far as the New York Red Bulls, who will pay fan groups $500 a game to not chant “you suck asshole.”

The Red Bulls have three major fan groups, and the Red Bulls have offered them a deal in which they make $500 for each game that YSA isn’t heard, but have to string together four straight games in order to get paid. Essentially, the team will pay each fan group $2000 every four home games if Red Bull Arena stays YSA-free.

“We can use this money for reimbursement for nearly anything we do, from buying batteries for the megaphone to offsetting costs for bus trips,” one group told its members in an e-mail.

Not only are the Red Bulls motivating the fans financially, but they’re also disincentivizing the fans with punishment threats. If YSA continues, they will take away smoke bomb, flag, drum, and banner privileges and revoke parking passes.

This is an amusing contrast to soccer in other nations, where racism and anti-semitism are widespread issues. A chant like YSA would be the last thing on the list to get rid of in just about every European and South American soccer league, but here the Red Bulls are actually paying fans to get rid of the chant. In the bigger picture, juxtaposed with the world as a whole, YSA is just a small blip on the radar of problems in soccer.

Maybe the MLS should stop and think about what they’re doing. Maybe this vulgarity is a sign that the sport is starting to get the same reaction that it does in the rest of the world. Maybe YSA is the catalyst of soccer’s success in America. And yet the New York Red Bulls and the MLS are trying to squash it like a bug.

To them I say: You suck assholes.

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