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American Soccer Fans Are ‘Groups Who Shove Black Men Off Subway Trains’, Says New York Times

The New York Times has won more Pulitzer Prizes than any other news organization, which makes their July 12th publication of Jay Caspian Kang’s “The Dark Side of American Soccer Culture” that much more dumbfounding.

In the article Kang haphazardly draws connections between shifting demographics in America, his own general falsification of English fan behavior in Marseille (Kang says that English fans “confronted some of the city’s Muslim citizens, chanting, ‘ISIS, where are you?’” and that they “travel to foreign cities to taunt Muslim immigrants”. The Guardian reported that “several England supporters [made] the chant” outside the Queen Victoria pub after 70 organized locals confronted England fans) and a nasty racist incident in Paris that resulted in four Chelsea fans being banned from football matches to label soccer culture as “stunted American male[s], frustrated with the changing demographics of the country…”

The article has been met with derision from all corners of America. First Touch Online's Tim Hall summarized the article as such:

"Mr. Kang went to one game, and then saw some other people fighting on YouTube and made a connection out of tissue paper and stale bubblegum. There were no facts, there were no studies or citations, there was no effort to look at any of the more diverse communities where MLS plays such as Los Angeles or New York (which, we should remind the New York Times, is where the New York Times ostensibly publishes from) where the fans might draw inspiration from their constituent multiethnic parts."

MLS commissioner Don Garber called the article “factually incorrect, poorly written, not even remotely researched and [doesn’t] in any way, remotely reflect the supporter culture in our league or the demographics of our supporters. I was absolutely astounded by the article. . .I read an article like that and I’m just so disappointed by the lack of professionalism, the lack of research and the recklessness of it.”


Kang’s citing of “the endlessly popular fighting-soccer-hooligan videos on YouTube” as one of the key components of his vigorous research does little to give his argument any credence. 

Nor does his attendance of one Seattle Sounders game “this summer”. I too attended two matches in Seattle this summer — Bolivia vs. Argentina and Ecuador vs. USA. I enjoyed conversations with people from all walks of life, from all parts of the Americas — it was a brilliant celebration of soccer. 

However, I wouldn’t be driven to write an article calling American soccer the great cosmopolitan get together because of this, nor would I get hysteric and label Latino soccer culture bigoted and homophobic for chanting “Ehhh, Puto!” on every goal kick. Labeling an entire subgroup or country’s culture off of a chant isn’t exactly methodical journalism. 

That would just be entirely idiotic, misguided and laughable. Basically, I’d be pulling a Jay Caspian Kang.

In essence, Kang began with the idea of painting American soccer culture as a bunch of Euro-snob hipsters with an insatiable desire to replicate Green Street Hooligans. Rather than using a period of observation or the culmination of extended experience, Kang has resorted to the laziest, most laughable means of aligning his article with this presupposed notion. 

Follow me on Twitter: @ConmanFleming

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