During a game against the Montreal Impact at Toronto’s BMO Stadium this past Saturday, a few FC soccer fans took “talking smack” to a whole other level. Apparently, they thought it was totally appropriate to bring along and display a large banner of a woman on her knees (clearly implying fellatio) and the words « Montreal vous sucez » (Montreal you suck) during the game.
As insults towards a rival team go, this is high-school stuff – lewd, crude, juvenile, and woefully unimaginative. Not only is it poor sportsmanship, it’s also sexist, degrading, and completely inappropriate in a soccer stadium that probably had more than enough children in the stands.
And Montreal fans quickly noticed…
— Milanista Esq. (@LaDiavolina) August 28, 2016
@torontofc Did I Really see a banner in BMO stadium last night saying “Montréal vous sucez”? And you tolerate that??? BMO accepts that???
— Denis Goyer (@DenisGoyer) August 28, 2016
3. Truth is the underlying attitude that leads to that banner is in every stadium in every sport in every city everywhere.
— Duane Rollins (@24thminute) August 28, 2016
— Impact LGBT+ (@ImpactLGBT) August 28, 2016
So did Toronto fans…
— Amy Whittam (@amytoronto) August 29, 2016
As word spread on social media and the images were shared online, the backlash against FC quickly grew. This morning, Toronto FC management apologized to the Montreal Impact and its fans, and distanced itself from the incident.
I’m not really sure why, though. While I commend FC management for publicly apologizing and renouncing that banner, they can’t possibly be held responsible for the isolated actions of a few tacky fans. I wouldn’t mind, however, seeing those fans sanctioned, or perhaps banned from a few games. If a player can get a yellow card and be suspended for committing an offense, why shouldn’t a fan?
Also, while I don’t expect BMO Stadium security to check each and every sign people come through with (particularly banners that are folded up while entering the stadium), the minute that banner was unfurled security should have moved in and removed it.
And, online commentators, can we ease off on the excuses and justifications for these tacky sexist displays masquerading as team spirit? You can try to minimize or laugh off the incident as “just a harmless joke”, but it still doesn’t mean it’s not reflective of a wider problem in sports culture that often has to do with machismo and female belittlement as part of the common acceptable narrative.
And bringing up “freedom of speech” arguments to defend sexist unsportsmanlike behaviour isn’t helping your case. Freedom of speech isn’t really protected so you can make blowjob jokes during a soccer game. There’s nothing inherently “lofty” about that right, so quit citing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as proof of a higher purpose. MLS management has every right to remove what can be deemed highly offensive to a large part of its clientele.
Making silly comparisons meant to minimize or dismiss people’s discomfort or disapproval of this incident isn’t helpful either.
“If stuff like this is the worst thing happening in our country, we should be thankful. Be offended, than be thankful,” someone commented on a CBC comments section.
Yeah, no. I don’t need to be thankful that someone drew a picture of a woman giving a blowjob as an insult to a rival team, because worse things are happening in the rest of the world. People are allowed to be offended and allowed to demand that it be removed, and naysayers don’t get to claim that it’s PC Culture run amok and that media is pandering to the few.
As it stands, not enough is being done to stamp out sexist culture in sports and displays like this do no one a favour – not the team those idiot fans felt they were supporting, not sports fans, and certainly not female athletes, female sportscasters, and female sports fans who constantly face an uphill battle in convincing society they belong in the game, in the sidelines reporting, and in the stands enjoying the game.
Prison Bitch lyrics at Verdun puppet festival
However, I am surprised another weekend incident hasn’t made bigger waves. While the fellatio banner made news, barely anyone noticed something else that took place in Montreal, and made its way on a few social media feeds.
Ronit Milo attending the 6th edition of Verdun’s family-friendly (or so we thought!) Festival Marionnettes Plein la Rue this past weekend was mortified to see one of the puppets lip-synching to Rodney Carrington’s “Prison Bitch”.
A sample of the lyrics?
“Cause you’re my prison bitch, my prison bitch, and I have no regrets, I got you for a candy bar and a pack of cigarettes. At first you were resistant but now you are my friend, I knew that I would get you in the end.”
So basically good ol’ lyrics about prison rape performed by puppets for an audience of children… Let that sink in.
Clearly someone dropped the ball here in approving this. Whether a city, a borough, or a merchants’ association employee, someone assumed that all puppet shows are geared towards children, should naturally be safe, and didn’t bother listening to the material. Or perhaps the person who approved it listened to it, but didn’t understand enough English to veto this number. Qui sait?
Either way, I can only imagine being a parent sitting your child in front of a puppet show this past weekend only to quickly come to the horrified realization that you’re listening to a puppet lip-synching about needing Vaseline in order to forcibly have anal sex in prison. Yes, it cracked me up, but no, it’s not ok.
The video clearly shows a young girl twirling along to the lyrics, completely impervious to the words. Let’s hope she didn’t understand any of it and she’s as oblivious as the person who OK’d this performance for children.