Last week we ran a piece on the horrendous portrayal of Philadelphia Union’s Sons Of Ben and football supporter culture in North America in general by GQ magazine in the UK.
The GQ article has been met with anger from football supporters over here, with writer Andrew Hankinson pilloried by many. Now, I’m sure that the article doesn’t really interest that many people in blighty, so for it to become one of their top read pieces says a lot about the publicity it’s raised in North America and the feelings it has generated.
All of this is just what GQ would have wanted of course, so I’m sure that they are rubbing their hands at all the attention. No such thing as bad publicity and all that, although I’m sure the Sons Of Ben would dispute that old cliche.
This of course, only addresses those readers who saw the article online, not those reading it in print.
It was a well crafted response and Brody comes across very well when allowed to be quoted directly, showing himself, his friends and the Sons Of Ben in a way better light, especially when it addresses him being labelled a “nameless skinhead and hooligan”.
Hankinson had Brody’s name from the start, he says, and just chose not to use it. Chacha’s version of how events played out and of quotes given also put a different light on what was happening.
Hankinson still disputes some of the criticism being levelled at him and was also given the opportunity to address this and still claims that “the story is accurate”.
What this story has shown supporters groups throughout North America is to be wary of the press and especially those journalists from the UK. If they want to do a story on you, then a boring old piece about “this is what we like to do on matchdays” is never going to pull the punters in. No matter what they tell you, they will always look for another angle.
It’s hard. You want to grow the group, spread the message and build a proper football culture in North America. Articles like this GQ one can kill that if idiots take it seriously, but I think the bond shown by fans all across the US and Canada has shown that we already have some great foundations, guys and girls in MLS. We have a good thing here and no-one’s going to take that away now. Not journalists, not Garber. The tide of change is in full flow.
Articles like this are good though and that’s when we come back to the whole “no bad publicity” angle. It gets people talking about us and raises some uncomfortable issues around how we behave, what we chant and swearing. We’re not always going to like the answers we hear back but that’s then the ideal opportunity to put our cases across reasonably.
Some journalists will never get football culture. Some will just want to try and paint us all as hooligans Some are really sound though. If you find one. Keep hold of them. They’re like Willie Wonka’s golden tickets and don’t let any fat German kid take that away from you.