Bridgeview, IL - Fans of the Chicago Fire major league soccer team sent the team owners a message that the fans will not tolerate racism from security guards towards Latino fans. Sector Latino is a Chicago Fire supporter group which is made up primarily of Mexican youth. Since their founding in 2005, they have been treated differently than the other supporter groups at Toyota Park, the home stadium of the Fire. They’ve complained of aggressive searches and being followed around the stadium by security guards.
At the last home game the team sold tickets to families for a section which is normally reserved for the supporter groups, who generally stand and cheer the whole game. The families attempted to sit in the standing section. Security responded by sending the Sector Latino out of their section, in which they are season ticket holders, to accommodate the mistake on the part of the team. During this incident, Sector members were called “wetbacks” and “spics” by the security guards. The guards also attempted to provoke fights with the youth.
The organized fans of the Chicago Fire are part of an Independent Supporters Association called Section 8. The leadership from the various groups held a meeting to form a response to the harassment. Previous meetings about the problems with Fire management and the park produced no results.
The groups passed out flyers to fans about what was going to occur and why. Another meeting was set with the team management. The Section 8 leaders were offered a meeting with the stars of the team, but Fire management dismissed their charges of racial harassment. The group went ahead with their plan of action.
On Aug. 16, hundreds of T-shirts which said “Sector Latino” were distributed to fans entering the game. When the game began, four huge banners were unraveled that said, “Fire: Stop the racism” in English and Spanish. Security swarmed down on the banners and confiscated them as the crowd roared its disapproval.
During the first half of the game the fans sat down and didn’t cheer. The silence from Sector 8 couldn’t be missed, as these fans generally stand, cheer, sing and chant for the whole game. Then only Sector Latino stood up and cheered in Spanish. This is all they had been guilty of all along. As soon as the second half of the match started all the fans stood up and cheered the rest of the game.
After the game the fans of Sector Latino and Section 8 marched out together, true winners for having stood in solidarity to oppose racism.