DEAR SOCCER SAGE:
In our local town, we are fortunate to have a free shuttle bus system that will take residents across four counties. Many people use the service to commute to local universities, work and other businesses.
On several occasions, I have been riding the bus when a young lady boards and begins to curse and threaten the driver. It is my understanding that she has been banned from riding the bus. However, she sneaks onto the bus repeatedly and engages in a standoff with the driver until right before the local police arrive to escort her off. It causes a lot of anguish for the shuttle driver I am sure, and her antics make the rest of us late for where we need to go. Is there anything that the passengers can do to keep this bus bully at bay?-SOUTHERNER SITTING STILL
DEAR SOUTHERNER SITTING:
It is unfortunate that one bad apple is wreaking havoc on a driver and its innocent passengers. The experience that you write of is not one that is unfamiliar to soccer fans and its players.
Within the last year, racist chants and comments directed at soccer players during matches, by small groups of bigoted fans, have marred the viewing experience of the majority at stadiums abroad. Two global headlines come to mind when thinking about your current problem. They are the AC Milan protest in January of this year, and Beitar Jerusalem’s La Familia chant down in March. Each situation illustrates a different approach to lessening the power of your shuttle tyrant.
On January 3, 2013, AC Milan’s players took the field in a friendly match against the much lower division team Pro Patria in Busto Arsizio, Italy. Racist chants from Pro Patria supporters against Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, and other players, prompted him to walk off the field. Immediately, the remaining members of his team followed his lead and the game ended after only twenty-six minutes of play.
As this example illustrates, a bully is only effective if they can get what they want. The discriminatory Pro Patria fans lost the privilege to watch a full match that day. And as you mentioned in your letter, your bus bully does not get the benefit of a free ride if the shuttle bus driver keeps the bus at a standstill waiting for the cops’ arrival. However, innocent bystanders, in both situations, are still getting the short end of the stick.
The Beitar Jerusalem fans opted to take a different plan of action when, the fringe support group, La Familia attempted to shake the resolve of one of the club’s newest players. In February 2013, the club signed two Chechen Muslims to the roster of the Israeli club. This decision enraged La Familia, who began yelling abusive chants at Gabriel Kadiev when he entered his first match for Beitar. In response to the chants, the remaining Beitar Jerusalem fans stood up and cheered Kadiev. This collective action drowned out the words of the radicalized faction.
Perhaps, it is time that you and your fellow passengers take a stand like the Beitar Jerusalem majority and get a good old fashioned, “Get off the Bus” chant going. It will not only drown out the shuttle tyrant’s foul language. It will send a message to this young lady that one person doesn’t have the power to stop a group from getting to their destinations.
The Soccer Sage, also known as Qiana Martin, writes Everyday Soccer Wisdom. Got a life question you need answered? Write Everyday Soccer Wisdom at firstname.lastname@example.org.