Donald Trump is a football fan
Politically active US soccer fans"A sport that supports your values"
At first glance, the situation is difficult to understand. In the center: a young woman in a huge cape with an equally huge printed circle with three long arrows. Shortly afterwards she is approached by law enforcement officers and - without offering any resistance - led out of the stadium.
The woman's name is Nora. The arena is Allianz Field in St. Paul, where Minnesota United plays its home games. One of 24 clubs in the American professional league called Major League Soccer.
When Walter White, the America boss of the Munich-based insurance group, explained two years ago why the company had acquired the naming rights for the stadium, he gave two reasons: helping Americans with private retirement provision and supporting the idea of social diversity. In English: "diversity".
Minnesota's football fans have known what that doesn't include since September 15 at the game against Real Salt Lake at the latest: All too striking protests against fascism and racism. An attitude that American football fans symbolically associate with the emblem of German anti-Nazi activists of the early 1930s. They called themselves the "Iron Front".
Filiberto Nolasco Gomez of the online news site "Workday Minnesota" videotaped the incident and uploaded it to YouTube. He remembers:
"The team had made it clear in the previous weeks that viewers could wear T-shirts with the symbol of the Iron Front, but not banners."
"You don't have to be ashamed of yourself."
Wearing a banner-like toga was aimed precisely against this prohibition as a provocation. After the League MLS classified something like this as a "political" statement and banned it. That goes too far for fans. In Seattle and Portland, they responded with a long silence during the game between the two clubs on August 23. 33 minutes long - in memory of 1933.
The two cities are something like the center of an evolving American football culture. It lives from loud fans with strong political antennae. Something that is also maintained in other cities. For example in the New York group of supporters of the German second division club FC St. Pauli. Football as a pool for a community of values in contrast to other team sports. Shawn Roggenkamp, spokesperson for the group:
"You don't have to be ashamed of yourself. Because you know that there is no sex scandal and that no player beats his wife. You can choose a sport here that supports your values."
"Always opened your mouth."
Occasionally the main actors demonstrate for these values as well. Like Alejandro Bedoya, international and Philadelphia Union captain. The other day he spontaneously yelled into a television microphone on the sidelines after scoring a goal: "Congress, do something. Put an end to the daily violence with weapons." He explained his stance on CNN television:
"You can't get me talking about 'keep doing sports'. I've always opened my mouth. I have an opinion and a platform and can provide a different perspective. Hopefully people will see the world a little differently."
However, it is unlikely that the American football fan scene will develop more than an occasional protest. Even in the times of Donald Trump.
League wants to rethink policy
Resistance is necessary, says Professor Jon Hoberman of the University of Texas at Austin, a recognized expert on the social role of sport in the US. On the other hand, says Hobermann, author of books like "Sport and Political Ideology", it has long been about more than symbolically spreading slogans and symbols in stadiums.
"That kind of polarizes. And that's okay. But do we really want to encourage right-wing extremists and principled leftists, including those in the mood for riot, to attack each other? When you consider what a creature like Trump does can arise, the young people in the football stadium are simply the least of the worries. "
A finding that shimmered through from a meeting of fan group representatives and representatives from Major League Soccer this week in Las Vegas. The league is ready to consider the fan behavior policy. Especially since football fans in the USA associate something different with the Iron Front * than street fighting. For them it is a symbol of a principled attitude: against fascism and oppression. And for human rights.
* The audio contribution incorrectly referred to the "Iron Cross". We have corrected that.
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