Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Trequartista Sweeper - On Fan Conduct

Photo from the UFL's Twitter Account (@UFLPhilippines)

It is natural that in the emergence of the sport of football in the Philippines, there always a corresponding growth with regards to the fans. Fans would then organize themselves into groups to express support their favorite player or team. That's fine. It encourages community-building and fellowship and creates camaraderie.

Concurrent with that growth, however, are side effects that leave much to be desired about the conduct of individuals if left unchecked. Here is an excerpt from Yahoo! PH's Bob Guerrero (@bhobg333)'s article on the recently concluded UFL Cup Quarterfinal match between Global FC and Kaya FC (I highlighted certain points of emphasis):
A note on the Ultras Kaya and their poor behavior that night. I have long admired the Kaya cheering squad, the Ultras Kaya for their energy, dedication and organization. They are the most enthusiastic cheering squad in the UFL. In fact just a few days ago I replied to a Tweet that praised them as the league's best.

But a lot of that respect went out the window on Tuesday.

Several of their supporters were repeatedly flashing dirty fingers at the Global side of the grandstand. Some also appeared to make loud and aggressive chants towards Global fans. At one point I could have sworn I heard them chanting "beat the wankers" at the direction of the Global supporters.

After the game they lit fireworks, which are illegal according to League rules, and UFL Match Coordinator Ritchie Gannaban tried to get them to extinguish them. According to Gannaban, the Ultras refused to put out the flames and some even taunted him. Says Gannaban "there are good fans and bad fans, and these are examples of bad fans. The bottom line is you have to respect everyone."

I'm with Gannaban here. I thought the Ultras Kaya behaved in puerile, reckless, and provocative manner. Thankfully the Global fans largely ignored the Ultras Kaya's heckling.

Do we want the UFL to be like some European leagues where opposing fans need to be kept apart by policemen and rows of buffer seats? I would hope not. Fan violence has killed hundreds, maybe even thousands in the history of Football, and the league is correct to nip this nonsense in the bud before it gets out of hand. The UFL should always be a place that is safe to bring kids. This stuff makes that difficult.

A cheering squad's function is to cheer on and motivate its team's players, not insult its opponents and their fans.

In my opinion the Ultras Kaya need a mature and clear-minded leader who will control their baser urges. Their conduct that night cannot possibly reflect the values and sportsmanship that Kaya Football Club represents, and I hope they clean up their act in future games. 
As what a friend tweeted out after the article was published, 
Football is suppose (sic) to be a gentleman's game, meaning dapat may breeding... Pati mga nanunod.
I presume taunting the UFL Assistant Technical Director (and Acting Tournament Director) is not exactly how a football fan should be acting in front of. I mean, he is an authority figure.

Yes, emotions do run high doing games, but it does not preclude us to then act foolish and boorish. Passion is part and parcel of being a fan of a particular team or of a player, but let's be responsible enough to provide proper restraint. Huwag na po natin paabutin na may aktual na masaktan pa sa atin. Unless, that is what some really intend precisely on doing. And that is precisely what is not needed in the growth of the sport to the public.

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