The internet, and twitter in particular, is full of trolls. Soccer is no different. Our particular brand of troll tends to be of the Ultra/Hipster variety, people obsessed with the right way to be a fan and also obsessed with telling you about it. God help you if you support a foreign club or don’t think pro/rel is life or have any positive thoughts about Garber, Gulati, or Klinsmann. They tend to prefer lower league soccer (the cool leagues start at the fourth tier) and hate the corporatization of the game. I don't feel like giving these people free press but if you hang out on soccer twitter long enough, you'll run into them.
These people have a lot of good arguments and I agree with them on a lot of them (Pro/Rel is a better system, corporatization of the game and it’s effect on culture is a negative, and supporting local soccer is vital to the growth of the game). The problem is that they often end up being bullies.
Nobody likes a challenger in their own backyard and Louisville City, specifically their cadre of official and unaccredited SGs, latched on to the some of the moves of FC Cincinnati that appeared a bit tonedeaf to more traditionalist soccer fans. The branding, sponsors, and lack of soccer people led to the assertion that this was a “plastic” club, a club built specifically to cash in on all that sweet, sweet soccer money in the US. FC Cincinnati and its fans became synonymous with the NFLization of soccer due to the efforts of Louisville fans along with Detroit and Cleveland twitterers.
I truly hate the term plastic, especially when attached to a supporter of any club. It’s demeaning in its implication that that person isn’t a real soccer fan and that’s exactly its intended message when used by these soccer trolls. “Get out, you don’t belong here,” is the exact opposite of what we as soccer fans should be saying. I'm not a proponent of only sunshine and rainbows but the actions of this part of the fanbase is a huge disincentive to new fans coming to soccer as I wrote about in one of my first pieces. How often has a non-soccer fan mentioned being corrected for not using the correct terminology and thus been turned off to the sport?
The club and local SGs have chosen to respond to these people mostly with work. The club have made changes and the SGs have grown and taken the appropriate, authentic steps. I think is a good response but represents the shortened nature of the growth of the support. Building and consolidating has to happen before pushback can.
We have finally seen that next step in the process. A specific twitter handle has started taunting back. At first I was a bit excited, that whole fight fire with fire mentality. I think there should be a level of good-natured friction between teams and previously the conversation had been very one-sided. There’s a Goldilocks zone between friendly and hateful that involves a level of loathing enough to inspire some emotion and passion but not so much that there’s not enough respect for beers to be shared afterward. I will say that the FC Cincy’s SGs have been slightly on the timid side, which is frankly better than overly aggressive, but it leaves a lot of space for this hurtful "plastic" narrative to thrive.
There is a difference between banter or defending your club and actively going out to start arguments, especially with these troll accounts who should just be avoided entirely. I think this aggressive behavior devolves into something pretty negative that nobody really benefits from. It also has the side effect of turning off the outsiders that are witnessing this very visible spat. Taking pot shots at cities for crime or poverty is pretty childish on one level, shows a complete lack of imagination at a deeper level, and turns you into the very thing you hate. There is good banter to be made and can be done in a way that actually benefits everyone.
On just a very surface level, how does mocking other cities in that manner benefit the club that you say you support or soccer in general? I would like to see more muscle in defense of Cincinnati and its club but it should be done in a way that can't lead to blowback. The big news lately is that FC Cincy has sold over 10,000 tickets for the home opener and are approaching 5,000 season tickets, both of these numbers blow away every side except for Sacramento Republic. Currently FC Cincy is higher in the table than a certain purple club (it's only two games). These facts are worth going on about on twitter, not childish insults, getting in arguments with sanctimonious jerks who won't ever change their opinions, and devolution to the lowest common denominator.
Let me know what you think or you soccer twitter experiences.