Chicago Fire vs. Indy Eleven: A Midwest Rivalry is Born

The Chicago Fire have won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (USOC) four times (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006) since joining Major League Soccer in 1998, and they’ve been the runner-up twice (2004, 2011). They’ve even been known as Kings of the Cup.

On Wednesday, Indy Eleven defeated Louisville City FC 2-1 to move onto the fourth round of the USOC play. This is their third appearance in the USOC tournament and their second time playing in the fourth round. This time around, Indy will meet the Chicago Fire on June 15 at Toyota Park.

Indy and Chicago have only met once before in a friendly match on April 1, 2014, where the Fire won 3-1.  This made the Chicago Fire as inaugural champions of the Schlabst Cup – the Schlabst Cup was born due to Peter Wilt’s (more on Wilt below) invention of Schlabst, best known as Milwaukee’s black and tan – a combination of Schlitz beer and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Section 8 Chicago cheering the Chicago Fire on in the Fire’s first meeting with Indy Eleven in Indiana in 2014. Photo credit: Section 8 Chicago

It may not sound like these two teams have a lot in common, but they do. Indy Eleven and Chicago Fire have several connections that make this matchup an exciting one. I asked a few key participants some questions about the upcoming matchup. Let’s take a look at what they had to say…

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Words do matter & the power of community

Yesterday The Howler published another article in their Bleachers Full of Women series. This article, Bleachers Full of Women: Debate Over Timbers Army Chant Show Why Words Matter, hit closer to home than the previous two (and that’s saying a lot), as I was interviewed for the piece and was able to reflect on my personal experiences as a female supporter of the Chicago Fire. Author Gaby Kirschner not only ties together issues that the Timbers Army and Section 8 Chicago (S8C) are faced with, but also connects their frustrations to Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro’s #MoreThanMean video.

Kirschner touches base on the impact that words have on the women in Major League Soccer’s supporters’ culture. As Kirschner said, “words have an impact, whether part of a tradition, meant seriously, or not.” I couldn’t agree more.

Since sharing Kirschner’s article via Twitter ( both via my personal account @nikhak and via @section8chicago) there have been mixed reactions. Some have been off-putting and difficult to read like the sarcastic tweet below.

Maud Squiers, who was also quoted in the article, reacts to article responses that she received on Twitter this morning.

Overall, however, Kirschner’s article was well-received. My first tweet about it received 25 retweets and 37 likes. Section 8 Chicago’s tweet was also received more positively than not.

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Bleachers Full of Babes: Objectifying Women Sports Fans

Late last week, NASL team Miami FC tweeted a video promoting their home opener for this past Saturday. The video showed two women, who Miami FC used to encourage their followers to “join these babes on Saturday!” Gaby Kirschner,  a contributor to Howler Magazine, responded to the tweet in her article Bleachers Full of Women: Are American clubs Treating Women as Fans or Products?  Kirschner questions what Miami FC is selling.

So what are Miami FC and other professional soccer clubs in the U.S. trying to sell, and why is it a point of contention? Here are a few points that arise from these questions:

  • Who exactly are teams marketing to? Who is their audience?
  • Using women as a marketing tool isolates half of the potential fan market of a team
  • Using women to market sports teams alludes to stereotypes that women don’t enjoy sports or are just there to impress men
    • Just as Kirschner states:

The trope that women only like sports to impress men or because they find the players attractive is the oldest one in the book.”

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DC United’s Supporters’ Future is Smokey

After finishing 4th in Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Eastern Conference and making it to the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2015, D.C. United (DCU) had high hopes for the 2016 season.  Now five games into the 2016 season, DCU find themselves in ninth place out of 10 teams in the Eastern Conference and 19th overall in league standings out of 20 teams.

To add to this discouraging start to 2016, Matthew Parsons, a long-time supporter, and leader of DCU’s District Ultras supporters group, as reported by DCist has been banned from attending MLS events and venues for one year. This punishment comes after Parsons used a smoke bomb outside of RFK Stadium before DCU’s last match on March 26th.

Not only has Parsons been banned from attending DCU home matches for one year, but “District Ultras section “will not be permitted to have flags, flag poles, and drums” at this Saturday’s game vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps at RFK—though a team official clarified to DCist yesterday that the Ultras will still be permitted to use drums at the match.” As one fan said via Twitter, in true MLS fashion, “way to make a mountain out of a mole hill.”

There are several reasons for the uproar over this:

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