Opinion Statement Supporting Inclusion

We, the Seattle Sounders Alliance Council, support the value of inclusion.

We stand with our Supporter Groups against hate, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.

Opinion Statement adopted by Alliance Council, Seattle, 6 August 2019

#CallingFowl – our message to Major League Soccer

#CallingFowl

Reign FC and Sounders FC players pose with their EQUALITY jerseys. All images courtesy Sounders FC Communications. Credit: Charis Wilson.

We, the Seattle Sounders Alliance Council, believe that soccer is more than a sport.

With its roots in community and accessibility, soccer brings a diverse range of people together for the sheer love of what we all know as the Beautiful Game.

Soccer does not care if you are old or young, fit or out of shape, male or female, short or tall.  All soccer needs is a space and something to kick around; bring the people and it will do the rest.  Which is why we believe it is our collective responsibility to uphold the core inclusive values of the sport where we see them threatened.

There is no place more important to the commitment of inclusion than within MLS – the highest professional level of soccer in the US and Canada.

We believe that the proposed league wide Chick-fil-A partnership is in direct conflict with these values.  Chick-fil-A, its ownership and affiliated Foundation, have a demonstrated position that is anti-inclusive in action and words.

We recognize that not every fan is going to be in agreement, and that some will see this as a political position.  Diverse points of view are welcome as part of the community that soccer brings together for a common joy.  However, we believe that respecting individual choices and perspectives doesn’t require entering into financial contracts with organizations that promote inequality and non-acceptance.

Today Alliance Council have sent a letter to MLS leadership which outlines our objections, urging the League to reconsider this possible sponsorship, and to emphasize the message of inclusion that the League has historically promoted.

We feel compelled by our Alliance Council charter and mission statement to speak out in these situations and to amplify the voices of those who desire acceptance and inclusion.

If #SoccerForAll is to truly mean All, there is no room for compromise. Words without action are hollow.

It’s a Nice Day for a Red Card Wedding*

Radford, Red Card

Photo: Sounder At Heart

By Stephanie Steiner

It was June 16, 2015 on a gorgeous summer evening at Starfire Sports Complex. There aren’t very many better ways to spend a summer evening than with a beautiful clear sky, a gentle breeze, a great beer garden, and some badass footy about to happen on the pitch right in front of you. Parking sucked, our enemy was in our fair city, and trains were rolling by.  It was perfect.  And then it wasn’t.

The center referee was Daniel Radford. I didn’t know enough yet to hate him. The front office staff had already challenged his experience earlier in the week, but I wasn’t overly concerned – this was Open Cup and there were typically a lot of guys on the pitch without a ton of experience. I had my hot dog, I had my beverage, I had my friends, and I had a great view. Let’s effing go.

The procession began and… wait wait wait! – we have two dark teams on a dark green turf.  Even while it was daylight, it wasn’t easy to distinguish Sounders from Termites (Timbers). As it got darker, it became more difficult to see who was who. Was this ref confused? His calls were not making sense. Radford, quite simply, was a mess. He was nitpicking strange things: throw-ins for instance. He made people start over.  He called things back.  He made very tough calls over embellishments and flops. He was micromanaging the smallest pebbles when he should have been paying attention to the avalanche. It was laughable except there was nothing funny about it. It was a disaster. Emotions were getting hotter and hotter.

Halftime: Sounders changed into white jerseys to help our boys see each other on the pitch. Portland had come to Seattle with only their green kits.  I’m not sure this helped Radford, but it did help us in the stands.

49th Minute: The Termites score. Rodney Wallace gets one by Troy Perkins.

69th Minute: Brad Evans received his second yellow over nothing. Daniel Radford, had he had the experience of a seasoned referee should have controlled the match with some reason.  Instead, he tried to control the match with penalty cards. Now, we’re down our Sheriff: Brad Evans is out of the match over an absolute joke call. Brad sloooooowly walks off the pitch.

Sounders’ Obafemi Martins immediately scores to bring us even 1-1.

85th Minute: Play resumes and the unthinkable happens: there’s a tangle at midfield and Oba goes down and stays down. He lifts his head up to call for help, and though none of us in the stands can hear it, we know this is bad. Radford, in the only good action he took all night calls for team trainers who eventually get medical staff.  Oba is taken off the field on a gurney.  Seattle had just used the third and final substitute – we’re now down to nine men on the pitch and heading to overtime.  What a night.  Can’t we get a new center ref in extra time?

100th minute:  Rodney Wallace again: BLAM! Another goal for the Termites.

112th minute: Michael Azira wins a ball (Fernandez flops – the effing effer) and for his efforts, Azira is accused of tossing an elbow: red card, ejected.   Seattle has eight men on the pitch. Seattle has eight men on the pitch. Ross Fletcher called the match that night and in amazement announced, “Seattle will end this game WITH. EIGHT. MEN.” Oh Ross. You were so wrong.  We all were.

At this point, members of both teams are walking around on the turf, waiting for Azira to exit and waiting for FishFlopFernandez to get his sorry ass up. I might be showing my personal views, but I don’t care (my heart rate is up as I type this out, too). Anyway, all of a sudden, Radford shoots up another yellow like he’s some kind of pop-up clown! What is going on now?  Pop! Another card! Pop! Another card!  Dempsey got a yellow card for walking by. Now, I’m not naïve, so I’m going to assume that walk included colorful language which generated the yellow. And then: ZING: a RED.   Click the link to the video and halfway through it you see Clint Dempsey pick up Daniel Radford’s book and rip it up. Clint Dempsey tore up the referee’s book!  I remember that glorious moment.  Finally a red card was earned! Some people say Clint Dempsey lost his mind, but I disagree: I think he found it. I think he felt the accumulated angst and frustration of all of us in Sounderland that night and he did what he needed to do for us.

ProReferees Official Photo of Daniel Radford

Only fourteen seconds had passed; it was still the 112th minute.  Now Dempsey had been issued a red card and ejection.   Head Coach Sigi Schmidt was standing over in the corner – our head coach had separated himself from the bench: he’s away from all officials.  I feel ya’ Sig. I get it. At this point, there’s pushing and shoving on the pitch.  Dempsey wanted to speak his mind with Radford.  Sounders were stepping in.  The crowd was getting louder and louder, and a water bottle landed about five feet onto the pitch.  Seattle had only seven men on the pitch.  Portland was still at eleven. The score was 1-2, Portland.  Ty Mears, Andy Rose, and Chad Marshall all helped Clint make his way to the sideline.

 

 

116th minute: Max Urruti scored again for Portland and the Termites celebrated the goal. They were still wildly celebratory when their opponent had only seven men on the pitch.  That’s rivalry.

Three and a half minutes later the final whistle blew: our Open Cup hopes were smashed that year.  A police escort got Radford out of the area, that jackass.

Photo by Martin Buckley

Trash cans were overturned onto the pitch. Soda cups landed on the turf, along with more water bottles. We all know not to throw stuff onto the pitch: every single one of us knows that. But the emotional outrage was so strong, that some of us couldn’t control the angry energy. I’m not better than any person who let loose; I just think perhaps I didn’t have anything that I wasn’t willing to part with. The evening was that upsetting.

 

Over the coming weeks, Clint Dempsey was vilified in social media for putting his Club in jeopardy. We didn’t have Oba, and because of Clint’s actions, we didn’t have his striking capacity for a while either. He was blamed for our losing streak. He lost his captaincy of the U.S. Men’s National Team. He was suspended several matches of U.S. Open Cup play (six matches or two years of play, whichever was greater).

I understand why people were so mad at Clint, but I think what we gained outweighs what we lost.  We, as fans, walked in expecting to win this match – I know I did. We gained renewed interest in a rivalry which had grown a bit ho-hum. We gained a villain. Dempsey had a reputation for being a bit of a bad boy, but he showed the world he was our bad boy: unpredictable, hot-headed, and man of the people. He actually did what every Sounders fan in that stadium wanted to do. He didn’t just breathe new life into a rivalry, he breathed fire into it! Post-match, the Sounders chant went on forever, and it was loud. We wanted Oba to hear us on the exam table.  We wanted those Termites to hear us as they loaded their bus.  I remember watching the flashing lights of the police escort as it made its way out toward Fort Dent Way: my chest was tight with pride and we were still chanting. We wanted Radford to hear us all the way out there.

*Red Wedding is an episode of the HBO series Game of Thrones, in which nearly everyone in one beloved family dies. A few seasons later, the family returns to greatness. Red Card Wedding is a fabulous and apt reference. As much as the 2015 season was painful, Red Card Wedding is now Sounders lore. Dempsey’s actions have become legendary. It’s unlikely we’ll remember ten years from now why Azira got a red card, perhaps not even our own Sheriff.  But Clint: tearing up a referee’s book is now historical. This is the kind of match that four thousand people attended and fifteen thousand will say they did: the stories have been recounted so many times that people think they remember being there.  It was that good.

Alliance Council Bylaw 9

3 May 2019

By Martin Buckley

An apology and an update.

Back in the summer of 2016 Alliance Council worked to update, clarify and modernise our Constitution and Bylaws. Ultimately the Alliance Constitution was sent out for an Alliance-wide vote for ratification.

Part of this body of work was updating our Bylaws; one of those Bylaws, Bylaw 9, concerned membership of Alliance Council.

During consolidation part of this Bylaw was inadvertently missed from the document published to the website; this recently came to light and in the interests of full transparency the correct Bylaws have now been posted to this website.

The original posted PDF document did not include Bylaw sections 9.3.3 to 9.7.3.

Scarves Up! Scarf design contest and vote returns

23 May 2019

By Martin Buckley

Alliance Council has worked with the Club since 2013 to offer Alliance members a voice in their choice of scarf for the following season.

This summer we are excited to announce that the design contest and vote for the 2020 Alliance Scarf will return. Look for communication on the timeline and entry details soon.

I thought it would be interesting to peek behind the scenes of the scarf design contest and vote – and see how your Alliance Council are working to represent you. The process starts in the Spring – when we start discussing the timelines, improvements and process on running the contest. 

The Club starts the ball rolling with the opening of the design phase of the competition. The designs come in from all kinds of fans – young, old, crayons to professional design. After the close of submissions – then Alliance Council gets really involved. This is where we get to discuss the designs among ourselves and reduce the many dozens of submissions to a final five.

In years past we received all kinds of images and documents – and tried to shuffle them by email. Hard work. For the last few years Alliance Council have been voting electronically and reviewing online. That’s a lot easier. We have seen some incredible designs – and getting to that final few involves a few rounds of voting. It’s a lot like the World Cup – I place the scarves in groups (splitting similar designs across the groups) and the Alliance Council workgroup vote for the best of each group. In the past top two from each group have gone on to the final round of Alliance Council review. That’s where we really think hard and vote on the final five. The final five – as selected by Alliance Council – are then passed back to the Club.

For 2018 the Club offered to make prototype scarves for each of the finalists, have them available at the Fan Appreciation event, and to give each finalist designer a copy of their scarf. That turned out better than we ever expected. Having scarves to see really helped fans imagine what the scarf would look like – and drove a lot of interest in the fan vote.

The fan voting is where we see a lot of discussion on social media. Everyone has opinions – and right until the close of voting we see a great deal of commentary about the various scarves.

The result of the fan vote is kept secret – and is usually revealed at the Alliance Annual Business meeting.