RSL fans to face sanctions if foul-language chants continue

Posted at 4:06 PM, Jul 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-02 18:06:45-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Rampant profanity in the stands at Real Salt Lake games has the team, the league and other fans crying, "foul."

Major League Soccer is concerned about one chant in particular.  Some fans holler it to try and trip up the opposing team’s goalie as he executing a goal kick. They yell, “You suck a******!"

The infamous “YSA” chant has been yelled at games across the country and internationally. RSL officials have tried to put a stop to it for years, but the final straw came on June 18, when the chant was broadcast from Rio Tinto Stadium during the World Cup qualifier.

"The response from the world via Twitter, Facebook, international media… was, ‘Really Utah, that's what ya got?  That's how you're going to represent yourself?’” said Trey Fitzgerald, Communications Director for Real Salt Lake.  "After games you hear from people who've had a bad experience and they threaten to not purchase future tickets or to change their plans when they were going to become a season ticket holder."

RSL player Nat Borchers said he sees both sides of the issue.

"When I go to games you just have to expect some are going to use some foul language, it's kind of part of the sporting atmosphere," he said. "I can see both sides of the coin, and I think cooler heads will prevail."

MLS sent a letter to half of the league's fan clubs, including RSL, saying if fans don't clean up the language by August 11, support groups could lose smoke devices, flag poles, megaphones and capo stands, which are similar to podiums and used to lead the chants.  Also, fans could have their parking and field passes stripped along with stadium credentials.

On the FOX 13 Facebook page, several RSL fans sounded off.

Michelle Torres said, "Lol, people are ridiculous!!! It's a tradition."

Derek Hansen added "What are they gonna do, ban most of the crowd?"

Christopher Watson said, "We are all adults here, we can choose what language we use."

RSL fan and punk rock drummer Brandon Steineckert wrote "I Believe," one most of the popular chants in MLS.  He told FOX 13 that fans need a unified alternative they can get behind.

Steineckert, who used to play for The Used and is now the drummer for Rancid, said he is working on some options and hoping fans will contribute.

Some support groups like the idea.

"In my personal opinion, yeah, it's time to make a change. It’s time to become more creative. It’s time to set the standard instead of following what everyone else has done," said Jake Simons, who supports the "Royal Army" club.

RSL stressed that they’re not targeting supporter groups and that the message is going out to all fans.  At Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia Union, each fan will find a flier on their seat, asking that they stop using the “YSA” chant.

RSL fears that the league could fine them or sponsors may pull support if they can’t get control of the language.  Officials say they recognize behavior doesn’t change overnight, but they're hoping to curb the foul language over the next month.

The full notice can be viewed on Section 26’s Facebook page by clicking here.