To commemorate the New York Cosmos’ historic friendly with FC St. Pauli, we looked to the words of Emma Goldman to explain a feeling. Emma Goldman was an anarchist activist and writer who lived here in New York City during the early 1900s, and a woman from which we, like many radical thinkers across the globe, draw great influence. On the front rail of the stadium on Thursday night you will see Goldman’s words inked in permanence, an excerpt from one of her larger works that, in its simplicity, reflects our mentality onto the world.
This friendly match is more than just a game between athletes from New York and Hamburg, this match is a statement of defiance, of independence, and in our humble opinions, an expression of great love. Through football, we have found a connection to our community and to each other that brings with it an inexplicable intensity. For years, the fan scenes around the Cosmos & St. Pauli have found common ground in the streets, bars, venues, football pitches, and demonstrations of our great city, and on May 23rd, we will finally have the opportunity to share our teams in the same stadium. So that is what we will do, we’ll share the stands, the fields, the celebration, and the atmosphere we’ll create will be rooted in this familiar expression of love. Love for our teams, love for our communities, love for our pursuit of a better football and a better world. Because “yes, love is free, it can dwell in no other atmosphere…”
Let’s be perfectly blunt. Soccer Every Sport has a serious toxic masculinity and homophobia problem. This isn’t news to anyone. There are currently a grand total of zero male-identifying openly gay soccer players in the top 5 leagues in Europe (Spain, England, Italy, German, & France). With the retirement of Robbie Rogers this past November, there are the same depressing number of male-identifying openly gay athletes in any of the five biggest professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and ML$) in North America. Troubling as this is, according to a poll from Stonewall and Forza Football, 37% of U.S. soccer fans still say they would not feel comfortable with a gay or bisexual player in the national team. Compare that to just 20% of fans in the UK or 13% in Iceland. As a young athlete or professional player or even a supporter in the stands, questions of sexual orientation or gender identity should never factor into one’s decision to get involved in soccer, or any sport. On the field or in the stands we want everyone (except fucking nazis) to feel welcomed and loved like comrades.
As soccer fans and Cosmos supporters, we knew there was a great deal of work to be done to ensure our home stand was safe and inclusive. We started out a few years back with a w 4’x6′ pride flag sloppily spray painted with “Cosmos Pride” and moved up to a hand-painted tifo three times as wide, our logo front and center and a section-wide rainbow smoke display to make our message clear: LGBTQIA comrades are welcomed and loved here, homophobia and transphobia can get the fuck out.
We’re not making the mistake of thinking our work is done with an annual display though. The barra brava culture which our makes our section a party like no other has also been far too often guilty of singing homophobic slurs like “puto” in our songs. We’ve confronted and will continue to confront our 5 Points family to re-write lyrics, change songs, and open our arms to make sure no one (except the fash) feels unwelcome.