Despite assertions by some that games between Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy don't constitute much of a rivalry, tensions in the stands are often heightened at these games. According to some Chivas USA supporters who were present at the match on Sunday between the teams, which ended in a 1-1 draw, those tensions, at least among some fans, went beyond normal fan taunts and into something more sinister.
The story began with some tweets from folks present in the stands for the game:
@MunchkinFunk @BlackArmy1850 not the best example...but everyone is standing all over them pic.twitter.com/QbQ44IrZL2— Erin Watson (@erinmac29) June 9, 2014
"TORRES GETS DEPORTED" sign on show at the @LAGalaxy game today. @MLS @cdchivasusa #Racist— Andrew V Watson (@andyvwatson) June 9, 2014
Andy Watson is a member of the Union Ultras and a Chivas USA writer for Total MLS and MLS UK. I think it's safe to say he's well-regarded among Chivas USA circles.
The photo is related to the charge that beans were present in the Away (CUSA) section on Sunday. Although it is unclear if the beans were sprinkled throughout the section prior to the supporters taking their seats for the game, or if they were thrown at people, the racial overtones of beans being the object directed at (either explicitly or implicitly) fans who are generally regarded as Mexican heritage is clear.
From there, the charges became hotly contested on social media, with fans of both teams weighing in, fans of other MLS teams weighing in, and plenty of harsh words and allegations thrown around.
There have been many calls by people on all sides of the incident to see photographic evidence of the sign Watson says was displayed at the game. So far, no visual proof has materialized, causing many Galaxy fans to allege the CUSA fans made up the story, something the Chivas fans vehemently deny.
I asked Andy if he would be willing to explain what he saw, in part to clarify his remarks on twitter, and in part to set the record straight. Here's what he told me:
Sunday was a great day. I have not had that much fun in a long time. It was one of the most memorable "super clasico" games and obviously one of the last. The players and Chivas fans made this possible. From the performance/result on the field to the atmosphere off it. I was proud to be in that stand with the rest of the Union Ultras.
During the first half, there were some incidents that were not exactly friendly shall we say, but not all that uncommon in soccer. Bad language was shared amongst both sets of fans and taunts/chants could easily be heard on that side of the stadium. Nothing unusual. Some people who were sitting in the home section though (who I can only guess were Galaxy fans as they were at the game with Galaxy jerseys on) took exception to what we were replying with ("Fuck the Galaxy" etc) and came over to us. One man was shouting/swearing at a couple of the Ultras and the stadium staff had to hold him back. They escorted him away from the stand. This also happened with two other fans but I couldn't hear what they were saying. Afterwards I heard from some of the group (El Chiva Mayor) that people were throwing beans at them during the game (no need to explain the insult). No one threw beans at me.
There was also the very strange fact that the stand we were in had a lot of beans on the ground. Now they could have been there for days, they could have been there for a lot of reasons. All I will say is that any time we have been to the Stubhub it has been very clean when we enter. This was not the case. After the alleged bean throwing, this led to people assuming that it could possibly be part of the insult. Obviously there could be a perfectly innocent, logical explanation for this, however it was just part of a very frustrating time in the stands for the "away" fans.
In the first half, a man who had been taking part in the exchange of taunts etc, held up a sign (it looked like one of those whiteboards you can write on and then rub off). The sign was considered by many to be offensive and racist. From where I was standing, I could read "Erick Torres Gets Deported". Other people saw this as well. To clarify, as this sounds like a newspaper headline for example, and not a well worded sentence I thought it seemed strangely written. But that is what I could see from where we were sitting (he was in the the next section over between the goal and corner flag).
[Regarding the tweet quoted above about the sign] I labeled it as offensive and racist, so did a lot of people. I tweeted it for 2 reasons. 1) I wanted people not at the game to know what we experienced 2) Some stadium staff were not really listening to our concerns throughout the game so I wanted the club to know about the sign. I tagged them and the LA Galaxy in the tweet. One of the Chivas staff who is always great with us came over to me and asked what happened and if I had a picture etc.
After this we never saw the sign again. As I was not actively taking pictures of LA Galaxy fans I didn't get the opportunity to take a picture. We were trying to deal with fans trying to get into our section than take pictures of what was going on.
So to clear a few things up, I did not directly call the man racist. I simply said the sign was "#Racist". I also did not make all of this up. I have been called a "liar" "attention whore" etc etc. A lot of people online referred to the story as "bullshit". This is what we, not just me, saw and experienced during the game. No videos or pictures. However, this does not make me or anyone else a liar. Our only evidence is eye witness accounts. But to some people this means it did not happen.
Finally, I did not label LA Galaxy or their fans racist. I am not that stupid or uneducated. I have friends who are Galaxy fans, so I would definitely not label an entire fan base like that. I completely understand and agree that the actions of individuals does not reflect the thousands of people at the game. Again, that is just common sense. I only feel the need to point this out because I got bombarded with tweets yesterday about calling people racist/trouble makers etc and making up what was going on. My main worry was that this would then look bad on the group...I genuinely wish I didn't have to write this.
The sign had no place at a soccer game. I am all for banter that goes up to the "line" that MLS asks us not to cross. Racism, or just a joke about deportation/immigration is past that line. So again, just saying what I saw.
There you have it, the account from Andy Watson himself.
What do you think? Leave a comment below. (Note: Feels weird to have issue this preemptively, but just in case - comments are welcome, but they must be in line with The Goat Parade's community standards).