Say what you will about the River Cities Cup rivalry, it's rarely boring.
Saturday's match between FC Cincinnati and Louisville City FC saw antics both on the pitch and off. While it was all fun and games in the stands, things got quite heated on the field. When it was all said and done, the 1-1 draw was the last thing most people were discussing.
Anybody who follows the fans of both clubs know they like to banter back and forth quite a bit. Whether it's about playing in a baseball stadium, or winning participation trophies for crowd size, it's often in jest and usually entertaining. On Saturday, it went to a whole new level.
It began when a pair of FC Cincinnati fans ran down the steps along the away supporters section, and tossed four inflatable poop emojis into the Louisville City section. Not to be outdone, the LCFC supporters decided to put the poop where they felt it belonged--right on the FCC Lion.
This may be a first for a @USL rivalry. It appears @loucityfc fans have thrown poop emojis onto the @fccincinnati tarps. #CINvLOU pic.twitter.com/MiHDrGtwTS— Jason (@jasonuk17) April 22, 2017
A few of the traveling fans decided to have a bit more fun with the moment. The Black Sheep, a supporters group of Louisville City, showed just what they thought of the hosts and their giant banners.
SOFCCPosted by Ben Jackey on Saturday, April 22, 2017
While things were fun in the stands, it was the exact opposite on the pitch in the closing minutes. What was a very entertaining and fairly contested match quickly turned nasty, as FCC's Baye Djiby Fall was shown a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on LCFC defender Kyle Smith.
While some felt it was unfair, replays show the forward clearly lunged in and led with his studs. He had already been warned for a few late and rough challenges, which did not help his case at all.
I see there are still a fair few & tinted glasses being worn this morning: Djiby seeing red was 100% the correct call. #FCCincy pic.twitter.com/W6GsdO8joh— WrongSideOfThePond (@wrongsideofpond) April 23, 2017
That was not the end of the incident, however. The USL is now investigating claims by Louisville City manager James O'Connor that, following the red card, midfielder Niall McCabe was headbutted and bitten by Djiby. While video replays show the headbutt did occur, they do not fully show if a bite took place.
However, photos from EM Dash Photography show what appears to be a bite mark on the cheek of the LCFC midfielder, right in the middle of his beard.
As any club would do, FC Cincinnati is staunchly standing by their player and denying the claims. In a statement released on Sunday, FCC President and General Manager Jeff Berding defended Djiby and stated there was “no evidence” to support the claim made by O’Connor. Furthermore, he claimed that the Louisville City manager “once again” made unfair statements about FC Cincinnati, including the accusation that two players suffered burns on their feet on the Nippert Stadium turf last season in a match that saw field temperatures rise into the mid-100s.
Later in the day, Louisville City released a statement of their own, refuting the claims made by the club up the river and stating that the USL had been presented with evidence and was investigating the allegations.
Per Pat Brennan of the Cincinnati Enquirer, confirmation has been given by USL spokesman Nicholas Murray that an investigation is underway, but no further information, including any sort of timeline, was given. As of Sunday night, the USL had still not publicly stated anything further.
Regardless of the outcome, things will likely get interesting when FC Cincinnati travels down Interstate 71 on July 15th and August 12th to play the final two matches of this season’s rivalry. While the fans will likely have something in store to top the poop emojis— something like Djiby as a Hannibal Lecter/Luis Suarez hybrid, maybe? — when the two clubs face off again, the eyes of much of the league will be on the pitch. Depending on what is found in the investigation, emotions could be quite high and it would not take much on a hot summer night to turn a spark into an inferno.
What happened Saturday night in the final minutes was something you don’t want to see on the pitch, and if the allegations are found to be true, it will be interesting to see how the USL punishes Djiby. Here’s hoping that this will be the last time we have to discuss something like this taking place in the league.
That said, the gauntlet has been laid down for trolling your opposing fan-bases. It’s time to see who will top the poop emojis first.