SALT LAKE CITY — Could Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer issue sanctions against their own fan groups? It's a possibility if fans keep yelling a certain chant.
It's a chant that has been going around MLS for years. The goalkeeper for the opposing team sets up a goal kick and the crowd yells, "You suck (expletive)."
"We think we're classier than that," said Trey Fitzgerald, communications director for RSL. "Our fans are better than that."
The "YSA" chant didn't start in Utah, however. Fitzgerald said it can be heard in other states and other countries, but MLS has been trying to put an end to it for some time.
"It has been a constant dialogue amongst all the teams in all the stadiums for two years, at least, since the league started developing and enforcing this fan 'code of conduct,' " Fitzgerald said.
The last straw for MLS was when Rio Tinto Stadium hosted a World Cup qualifying match June 18. Fitzgerald said the chant could be heard on national television in the U.S. and over 100 countries all over the world.
Sanctions could include:
- No smoke devices, flag poles, banners, or other displays permitted at home or away matches
- Retract parking passes, stadium credentials, and field passes at Rio Tinto Stadium
- Prohibit drums, megaphones, and Capo Stand
Many people voiced disappointment over social platforms, like Twitter, after hearing it. Following that, Fitzgerald said MLS stepped up their involvement in getting the chant banished. However, Salt Lake City isn't the only city being called out on this.
"The same thing is happening in New York and in Philadelphia," Fitzgerald said. "It has happened in Seattle. It has happened in San Jose."
Fitzgerald said the chant, as minor as it may seem to some, has become a source of contention for fans. And whatever side RSL takes, some people are bound to be upset. Some parents have made it clear to RSL officials they don't want their kids hearing it. At the same time, Fitzgerald believes it will be hard to regulate a fan's language.
"There are people that want to cancel their tickets over it," he said. "There are other people that (might) cancel their tickets because we're trying to control what they view as free speech."
Supporters groups, like Section 26, have been sent a letter saying attempts to get the chant to stop have regressed since last season. Supporter groups have until Aug. 11 to make improvements. If the group doesn't at least try to cooperate, a series of escalating sanctions may be levied against them.
"You're not being picked on; you're not being isolated," Fitzgerald said. "You're being asked to be part of the solution; you're being asked to come up with something better."