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Editorial: Why Sector Latino Matters

RJ offers some personal reflections on SL12 and Chicago supporter culture

Last Friday the Chicago Fire announced that Sector Latino’s supporter group status has been revoked. Like others out there, I’m livid at this decision.

Now, I’m not part of Sector Latino or any other supporter group. I’m no one special – just a fan who loves this club. I’m too young to remember the glory days (I’m just 24), so I never saw the double and I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the dominance the club had in the early 2000s. I only know of the club that was in a turbulent period. From the acquisition of the club by Andrew Hauptman, to the brief playoff spell in 2012 and to the steep decline shortly after. Despite growing with the club past its days of glory, I love supporting them – there are no other club that could capture my heart like the Chicago Fire.

Whenever I settle myself in the confines of Toyota Park I always saw Sector Latino on the far corner of the stadium giving it there all to support the boys out in the pitch. I’ve always admired them for the energy and support they output. They are the definition of Tradition, Passion and Honor. It wouldn’t be a Chicago Fire home game if I didn’t hear the instruments and chants belt out from Section 101. Through the good and bad, they are a constant presence.

The passion they and other supporter groups had just fueled my love for the Fire. Even during the darkest period of the club, their presence uplifted my spirits.

I once had to cover the Fire game against DC United for my college two years back. From the press box I had a view of the entire stadium. When things were slow out in the pitch, I would look down towards the Harlem End or Section 101 to see what they were up too. On the 29th minute when David Accam gave the Fire the lead with a beauty of a goal, the whole stadium erupted but no one celebrated harder than folks at Section 101. I just wanted to shout with joy alongside with them, but as you know – there is no cheering in the press box. After Accam’s goal, I just looked down towards my laptop’s screen trying to cover the huge smile on my face. But at least Sector Latino was doing the cheering for me.

Even though I’m not a part of their group, I’ve always felt that they were – and they still are – a part of me. If I wasn’t in TP watching the game, I know that Sector Latino and other groups were cheering for me out there. So when the FO announced the permanent ban on them I felt angry. It felt like a huge spit on the face, not only for me but for countless others.

I’ve personally felt the wrath of the FO towards me when I was some college student trying to cover that game I mention earlier. As a fan I felt attacked and as a then-practicing journalist, I was confused at what they were doing towards the press. But their actions towards me pale in comparison to the knee-jerk senseless reaction they had towards Sector Latino.

This ban on Sector Latino is an attack on us all.

Banning a whole supporter group because of actions of some individuals who may or may not even affiliated with them is downright abhorrent. The FO is sending out a message that no one is truly welcome. As Ruben stated a couple weeks ago, supporting the club should not be criminalized.

Despite all of this I still love the club with all my heart. I will continue to support the players until the end and I hope the FO will reinstate the supporter group status for Sector Latino.

Until then, En Las Buenas y Las Malas.