Tuesday night’s U.S. Open Cup game didn’t turn out the way Detroit City FC had hoped for.
After 90 minutes of back-and-forth play, Detroit was tied with Louisville City FC at 1-all, and extra time still didn’t alter the score.
It all came down to a thrilling penalty shootout, but Detroit didn’t end up winning.
While it was a disappointment for the team to exit the U.S. Open Cup after an upset win against MLS team Columbus Crew a few weeks earlier, all fans could talk about before the game was the disagreement between the team’s supporter group and the team itself.
Detroit City’s supporter group, the Northern Guard Supporters, was unusually quiet at the beginning of Tuesday’s game.
Normally, you’d hear the pounding of drums and the roar of the supporters section before kickoff, but Keyworth Stadium was silent, and it wasn’t a coincidence.
The club posted on social media last week that profane apparel and chants would not be allowed at Keyworth Stadium on game days. This didn’t sit well with fans, as they are used to pretty much using whatever curse words they want during chants and on signs.
NGS posted a statement to social media on Sunday night, saying they planned to “punch back” at Tuesday’s big game.
The pushback resulted in a five-minute protest of silence when the game started. It was eerie in a way, to see the game go on with no drumming or chants from the supporters’ section.
While Detroit City FC may think this is a simple request -- to ask fans to refrain from using profanity, NGS thinks this is a slippery slope that could lead to more censorship. At any given DCFC game, you will usually see banners in support of LGBTQ+ people, Black Lives Matter and other social causes.
According to the Detroit News, an information sheet was passed around, telling fans about the planned protest.
“This is not just about our ability to swear. This is about being able to maintain the creativity and the passion that has allowed us to build on one of the greatest supporter communities in the world,” the sheet read.
At Tuesday night’s game, there were banners that said “We stand against U.S. Soccer censorship” and “Only fools fear words.”
They were messages that were directly pointed at DCFC and U.S. Soccer.
The big question that remains is, will the NGS lighten up on cursing, or will this battle between fans and the soccer federation continue on?
Given that Louisville City FC’s fans joined in on the protest in solidarity, it seems that fans may have more control than U.S. Soccer would like. Time will only tell.