Public enemy #1
This article contains some salty language and is a 100% opinion piece by me, not meant to be the official stance of this blog but simply of the blogger himself.
Colorado Rapids fans have a fairly... we'll call it tepid history with the front office. Back in the day that we were back at Mile High Stadium and Invesco Field, the fanbase was small and the Rapids didn't seem to enjoy many efforts to increase it. Since DSGP showed up, there've been all sorts of problems between supporters groups and the front office, with security issues and whatnot clouding almost every season.
In 2010, the Supporters Terrace was installed as two new 'permanent' supporters groups formed in addition to the already successful Class VI and solidified for the first time in Rapids history, and it looked like we were able to put everything in the past behind us. The Rapids winning MLS Cup 2010 made the transition look like it was going to go even smoother. Sure, there were bumps in the road last season. The terraces were almost taken away late in the season after some altercations with Real Salt Lake players, for instance. All in all, it looked like the future for the Rapids was a bright one though.
Guess we were all duped.
I personally did not see much of what happened last night so most of what I know are from anecdotes and second-hand accounts. I was at the very front row of the supporters section in 117 playing the accordion (don't ask) so I wasn't able to see anything behind me for most of the match, let alone what was going on with the security issues.
Even being stuck in front, there were some things that I picked up on immediately. Sections 117-118 - the small corner of the stadium where the supporters groups were stashed in order to give Santos Laguna fans the entire west side, which also just happened to be the side shown on TV - were swarming with security guards. (Anyone else find it fitting that the fans were basically in last season's away section, considering we might as well have been the away team yesterday?) Even before the match began, people were getting warned to calm down on some salty language and gestures toward the thousands of Santos fans at DSGP. Someone even told me that he was told he would get 'carded' and kicked out if it kept going on.
Keep in mind that was before the majority of the fans were even inside the stadium. It only got worse as the night went along. The Santos fans in attendance were essentially given free reign of the place, chanting things - loudly enough that we could very clearly hear them, you may note - that I can't write on this blog because of my own language policies. Naturally not a single Santos fan was seen by any of us getting harassed by security, perhaps because their terrible manners were so well organized?
The Rapids fans were mostly getting kicked around by security only in single servings. The entire section 118 said 'fuck' together several times without incident, but whenever someone randomly shouted it by their lonesome - which unsurprisingly happened quite often during a 4-1 loss at home - security flocked. So not only were they over-policing the section, but doing it in the most chickenshit and cowardly way possible.
Similar to the whole 'Fort' incident - you have no idea how much I hate to compare this to that but it immediately came to mind, fortunately this wasn't quite of the same magnitude - from what I've heard, the security involved were complete jerks in the process as well. One anecdote featured someone getting essentially getting told that if they were to say anything, they would be automatically ejected. Another had someone getting a threat for flipping off the Santos fans after one of the goals - the same Santos fans who had entire sections of people flipping us off - which ended only when another Rapids fan intervened to keep punches from being thrown after the guard was asked why on earth no Santos fans were getting harassed. (The obvious answer is 'because they'd be putting that big paycheck from the Mexican fans in jeopardy, but I digress.)
My personal favorite story was the photographer - a Rapids fan, wearing Rapids gear on the sidelines with the pink CCL poncho over it - who went to take pictures of the Santos fans but was immediately escorted away from them. After being verbally assaulted by the Santos fans, the photographer started to shout back but was told that if she tried to, she would get her media credentials taken away and be banned from the stadium.As if there weren't enough bridges being burned on the evening, adding media members into the shuffle was really just insult to injury.
At some point, the Rapids might want to note that this isn't a team that has the luxury of alienating a large chunk of its fanbase. The Rapids are only barely averaging 14,000 fans per game this season and have never been a huge draw in the area, needing 16 years to make even the progress that we've seen so far. And even then, the fanbase - especially the loyal ones with season tickets and weekly supporters group dwelling - is still pretty small. Add in the fact that the team clearly didn't care about the product that they put out onto the pitch for their most loyal fans last night - only 25% of the season ticket holders for Colorado actually bought CCL tickets - and it's clear that the Kroenke owned Rapids give less than a damn about anything but the almighty dollar.
At the point where you have Rapids fans praising the Real Salt Lake security and front office for treating them better than their own team's, I think you have a problem.
I guess I should be glad that I left during the 75th minute. Too bad I can't take the $10 back out of the money grubbing Rapids FO pockets, though. Congratulations on the big Santos-led paycheck, Rapids. You might want to cash it out as Pesos, considering the audience you obviously care about most.