Thursday, July 10, 2014
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Philly fans' profanity causes controversy

Excuse me for writing a headline without any news in it, but there is a spat going on across the Internets today that needs our attention.

Philly fans' profanity causes controversy

Excuse me for writing a headline without any news in it, but there is a spat going on across the Internets today that needs our attention. A soccer blogger and Manchester United fan in Charlotte, N.C., named Ethiene Rodriguez, has taken to the website EPLTalk.com to roast the Sons of Ben for chanting a few profane things during Wednesday's game.

Not surprisingly, the ensuing uproar has drawn in a bunch of soccer fans and bloggers across Twitter, including BigSoccer.com's Aaron Stollar and the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg. Both of them actually like Philadelphia fans, believe it or not. Though if it makes you feel any better, the former told me by email that he would be happy for you to hate him.

So, fine, I will take the bait and jump into this thing. I am no fan of Philadelphia sports fans' vulgarity, and have made that clear in writing on Philly.com before. But the author's argument has multiple significant flaws in it. Let's take them apart, shall we?

Rodriguez's point based around two chants she heard at Wednesday's game. I'm not going to name them directly, but if you've been to a game you've heard them. Especially the one that is uttered when the opposing goalkeeper takes goal kicks.

Criticism of the goal kick chant is fair game in my opinion, especially because of how easily the noise carries in the small confines of PPL Park. But I guarantee you that if the Sons of Ben yelled the Spanish word "Puto!" as many supporters clubs in MLS do, there would be no controversy whatsoever.

It says something that no one complains about the use of a Spanish chant that is even more vulgar than an English chant. There, I said it. Make of it what you want.

As for the other chant, to be perfectly blunt, it does not actually exist. If you're sitting in the stands (or indeed the press box), you might think initially that the "Come on the U!" chant sounds like something else. But if you take two seconds to properly listen to the thing, you'll realize what the Sons of Ben are actually saying.

I'd close with this. EPLTalk.com is a pretty well-established website, with lots of analysis and even the occasional honest news story - especially about coverage of soccer on American television. I read it on a fairly regular basis.

But so far as I can tell after multiple searches, this is the only post the author has written for the site. Furthermore, the author directly admits to being an American who has only been to Old Trafford once.

Which causes me to conclude two things. First, the author hasn't spent nearly enough time around actual English soccer fans, because they're just as capable of rampant vulgarity as the Eagles' and Flyers' finest diehards.

And second, if she went to Old Trafford and didn't hear any vulgarity, then the place really has become a soulless cash register. There's a very good reason why even the United fans at the Linc on Wednesday showed up wearing green and gold over their red.

UPDATE: The author and EPLTalk.com's editor have issued a retraction after many commenters explained the actual words in the "Come on the U" chant. So keep calm and carry on, or something like that.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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