By promoting Harambe chants, MLS, Red Bull II Show Lack of Social Awareness



OP-ED: Sunday’s USL game between New York Red Bull II and FC Cincinnati took a turn for the ugly at Red Bull Arena when home supporters introduced songs and chants relating to Cincinnati Zoo gorilla, Harambe.

To make matters worse, the club and Major League Soccer seemed to have no problem glorifying the chants, even getting a laugh out of the exchange with articles on the MLS website and posts on Twitter.

For those living under a rock, Harambe was a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. On May 28th, a three year old child climbed into the gorilla’s enclosure, sparking a series of events that led to the shooting and death of the gorilla to assure the safety of the child. This led to massive protests from animal rights activists and sparked a nationwide debate over the decisions taken by the zoo itself.

As is the case in today’s day and age, tragedy spawned a series of offensive memes picked up by those simply looking to instigate on social media. Hastags like #DicksOutForHarambe or #Justice4Harambe straddled the line between ridiculousness and hatred. As the months went on, the memes became tools for internet trolls and instigators to attack targets. First, the Cincinnati Zoo had to shut down all their social platforms in response to the abuse. Most recently, actress Leslie Jones, who tangled with alt-right wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos on social media, found the gorilla memes thrown at her with alarming regularity. This has taken the Harambe story to a much darker realm.

In this case, the league and club’s lack of social awareness is particularly striking especially for an organization that prides itself on their social conscious. MLS’s progressive stance on everything from the policing of offensive chants, curbing verbal abuse from fans, cracking down on player-on-player insults — even supporting Robbie Rogers being an openly gay player — has set the league apart from other sporting institutions worldwide.

That brings us to Sunday night’s USL game. Fans who actually stuck around after the Red Bulls senior team match against New England were looking for a way to poke fun at the Cincinnati team. They had more than enough weapons to choose from. An relevant target would be John Harkes, head coach of Cincinnatti, who is a D.C. United legend, offering easy fodder if so inclined to engage.

Instead, they went after Harambe for 30 minutes, ignoring the play on the field and directing their attention at altering songs to include the dead gorilla for a majority of the game.

The following day, MLS posted a piece treating the situation as a tongue-in-cheek affair, stating, “fans cannot help but express their grief through and entire game’s worth of Harambe chants and banter.” The article treated the incident as harmless fun from a supporters group. Yet, when the “You suck *******” chant were running rampant, MLS was the first to take umbrage. Where does the line of good taste begin, and where does it end?

Even the New York Red Bull II Twitter page seemed to jump in on the “fun” by posting the following tweet:

As in other facets of life, sports fans generally have a dirty underbelly among their ranks willing to cross socially accepted norms in order to give themselves a laugh. But this time, the league and team joined in — an odd occurrence that wouldn’t happen in other major sports like the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA.

MLS could have simply ignored the issue as opposed to promoting it and embracing the behavior. Instead, they condoned and promoted the act, leaving one to wonder … where do you draw the line?

The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Empire of Soccer.

  • John

    Hahahahah! Theres no way this a real article. Hilarious. Is the the Onion or legit reporting? You actually took the time to write an article about this?

  • There\’s only one Harambe

    Perhaps your priorities need to be reexamined.

    You have so much outrage about supporters sarcastically chanting over a dead gorilla but no outrage over the fact that a local MLS team is owned by someone who denies the holocaust. Not to mention that this very team also employs a player who laughed at New York City on September 11th.

    For shame.

  • Sammy the Red Bull

    Another piece of crack journalism by Anthony Merced. My guess is Anthony writes in his spare time, because based on his articles there is no way somebody actually pays him.

  • Danny

    I can see being concerned about shutting down a zoo’s social media, or using a meme to shut down real discussion, but this was a reference to a meme, making fun of a city. There was no real victim. If this is what bothers you, you need a better grip on reality. If everything bothers you to the point where this is actually worth writings about, I feel sorry for you. Congratulations on the clicks, probably the only ones you’ll ever get.

  • Dr. Harambe.

    It only went on for “30 minutes” because the rest of the time was spent heckling people who were crying about it on Twitter.

    Now who was that again?

  • lmfao

    By spending time writing this, you have shown a lack of social media culture awareness. This is embarrassing.

  • JoeBlow

    Serious question – can someone point me to the articles this writer has written to teams consistently using the puto chant and ownership not doing anything about it, such as nycfc

  • JoeBlow

    On another serious note. Thank you. I needed the laugh. I’m now obsessed with this.

  • OpenCupFan

    Would love to see a picture of this “crowd” of fans at the mls/uslNJ outlet.

    • Larry\’s A Simpleton

      lol, this thread only gets better. a fanboy of the world famous, greatest brand in north american soccer history trying to talk smack about attendance. hey jsprech/opencupfan, a little self awareness goes a long way.

      • slowleftarm

        It’s worth pointing out that this is an article about a FC Cincinnati game and that team is drawing 17k a game on average while that world famous independent soccer club in Hempstead is lucky to get 3k at the lacrosse field.

        • EPL Fan

          This RB team is pathetic along with their Nazi owned franchise

  • ****

    Dave, please don’t let this guy write any more articles. Thanks.

  • you suck, *******

    No more dickless millennial SJWs


    • Danny

      Don’t blame us for this waste of air.

  • John Harkes was an easy target because he played for DC? Do you have any friggin clue that he is also a local legend having grown up playing on fields within walking distance to RBA. playing for the USMNT and playing in England? Oh who the RB and MLS did a piece on the history of soccer at the Scots American Club? RBA is not a trigger free safe zone. Humor rides on the edge of societal norms often. Less people were harambed ..I’m sorry I meant harmed .. due to any of these chants, TBH …

  • Hari

    Harambe loved soccer.

    • English Teacher

      This might be the worst, least relevant articles Anthony has ever contributed. I really hope he never writes here again.

      • slowleftarm

        Hopefully you will never post here ever again.

        • slowleftarm

          Why would someone pose as me to write that? Bizarre. But typical from Angry Bill/opencupfan

  • I have to agree with my highly-esteemed colleague, fellow investigative journalist Anthony Justinian Merced. Empire Supporters Club has shown a lack of sensitivity, class, social awareness as they consistently do. They totally disregarded the feelings of visiting FC Cincinatti, the other 14 fans in attendance at Red Bull Arena (a season-high in attendance, by the way), and the still grieving family and loved ones of Harambe.

    Everyone who knew Harambe personally knew that he was a Great Ape. Every day I look in the mirror and think to myself that if I could trade the entire Empire Supporters Club for just one more day with Harambe, I would. You should be ashamed of yourselves ESC and Red Bulls. This is NOT ok. You need to apologize.
    #ImWithAnthony #JeSuisHarambe #RIPHarambe

  • moleson

    EoS has officially jumped the Harambe with this article.

  • con kebabs

    delet this and get fucken

  • George

    What a fucking Idiot! lamp 😂😎