I have never posted on this site. However, I feel inclined to do so to clarify and underscore the embarrassing reaction among a contingent of Sacramento Republic FC fans amidst the recent dispute. With that, unapologetically, I will begin with a fairly brash yet necessary statement and then substantiate it by providing some soccer perspective and needed education for this fanbase:
This recent dispute publicly differentiated Sacramento's real long-standing soccer playing, soccer-knowing community from a throng of youthful, mustache-shaping hipsters that have recently taken to soccer and have used SRFC as largely a social affiliation.
Many may find this statement unfair, but I am doubtless as I write it. I'm truly embarrassed that the people who report themselves to be true soccer fans who have expressed their priority in elevating Sacramento as a major league soccer city were willing to contribute to a public relations nightmare that may have had some impact (even if minor) in reducing Sacramento's chances of earning an MLS team. And whether Sacramento gets an MLS club or not, this was truly an embarrassment. Please allow me to explain below.
It is clear for anyone who has followed soccer in this country that Warren Smith was the villain in this scenario. While he is obviously responsible for much of what has made SRFC successful as both a short-lived minor league franchise and as a community around which soccer has elevated in Sacramento, his dealings leading up to and during this dispute were clearly selfish and lacking in integrity. As any longstanding authentic fans of MLS and soccer generally will tell you, we have seen this type of thing before. But, for the interest of the wider fanbase, let me spell it out. Clearly, Warren Smith leveraged the timing of the bid for an MLS franchise to ask for an unreasonable price tag and terms in the sale of SRFC's title and history. It is very obvious that Warren Smith recognized that, after this sale, his control and influence with this team would end, and instead of doing everything in his power to ensure that Sacramento had the best possible chance to earn an MLS franchise, he prioritized self-interest and opportunistic financial gain.
Warren Smith was more than willing to reduce Sacramento's chance of earning an MLS franchise in the interest of financial gain for himself and his camp. He was willing to hold the bid hostage in the months leading up to the MLS expansion deadline.
So, just for starters, I would like to offer widescale condemnation for anyone who is siding with Warren Smith on this issue. But, of course, Warren Smith's position and dealings in this situation can be chalked up to good old-fashioned greed. This behavior is not uncommon for businessmen of his stature and above, and perhaps this should have been expected. But, what is truly disgusting is the reaction and public embarrassment that a certain group of SRFC fans demonstrated. And at the front of this line of ignorant, soccer-knowledge-deficient embarrassments were the responses of the Tower Bridge Battalion. Truly ignorant.
As an older guy who has been playing and consuming soccer, internationally and locally, for decades, I can't over-accentuate the ignorance represented by this group of fans led by the Tower Bridge Battalion. Anyone who has any perspective with regard to soccer understands that our country is significantly lacking in terms of depth of quality (at the club and national levels). I say that to express that not being an MLS city in this country, is equivalent with being completely irrelevant in the greater soccer landscape. Our top flight of soccer, MLS, is only recently becoming relevant on the international stage. Are minor leagues situated below MLS, are beyond irrelevant. The difference between having an MLS team in this country and not, is the difference between being a relevant US soccer city and simply having a temporary stadium at which to drink local beers.
Beyond this, the likes of the Tower Bridge Battalion demonstrated an incomprehensible lack of perspective when it comes to sports. I read comments and pleas that were suggesting that in the event that Sacramento was granted an MLS team without the inclusion of SFRC, that Sacramento soccer fans should continue to support a minor league franchise in lieu of supporting Sacramento's second major league sports franchise. This transcends ignorance into a realm of what I must assume to be alcohol-induced stupidity. If you were one of the people that made statements similar to this or supported them, please shave your hipster mustache, stop buying scarfs, and spend three years on YouTube educating yourself on the history of soccer (and perhaps sports) before you speak again. SRFC has been a fun experience and hopefully a pleasant prelude to having a real soccer franchise in this city. However, the fans of which I speak have been acting as if a team with a 100-year history was trying to turn its back on its legacy. These free-range chicken hipsters were responding as if Manchester United had been taken by a new ownership group that had plans to turn on the club's legacy and name. Please take a breath and recognize SRFC for what it actually is. It is a three-year-old minor league soccer franchise that has participated (to this point) in the third-division of a relatively soccer-poor nation. Get some perspective. We're not Chelsea, we're not even the San Jose Earthquakes. At least the Earthquakes' history goes back to the lackluster NASL of the 1970s. Anyone with any actual soccer perspective understands that SRFC's presence has been less than a blink of an eye in the history of the beautiful game.
My final thesis here is simply that the Tower Bridge Battalion and fans who have supported their positions recently have truly operated on a level of ignorance and embarrassment that I know they will never admit to. But, I felt strongly that on some level, an educated soccer fan needed to speak out. The fact that this group of fans was willing to contribute to a public relations debacle during Sacramento's effort to earn an MLS franchise in favor of an irrelevant minor league soccer history is beyond me and anyone who has any true soccer pedigree. This needed to be said.