“I don’t think it’s acceptable to swear and cross the line, even if you’re a fan.”
Gimpo FC supporters Golden Crew’s ‘Clean Supporting’ is bringing a breath of fresh air to the K League. Instead of shouting profanity or slander at opposing teams or referees during matches, they applaud their favorite Gimpo players even when they are not performing well. This is definitely a different direction from some K League supporters who are frowned upon.
Chairman Hagi Woong said, “When I started Golden Crew, I said, ‘Let’s keep this one thing. It’s ‘never criticize the players. And this also applies to the opposing team’s players. It’s true that without fans, there would be no sports, but even if you’re a fan, you can’t tolerate indiscriminate swearing and out-of-line behavior. Athletes are individuals and people too. There was a consensus among the supporters that ‘they are all someone’s son, and how upset their parents would be if they saw this,'” he explained.
This is a remarkable act considering that other K League supporters have been known to swear at opponents and referees during games, or even take collective action when their favorite team is doing poorly. It is in the same vein that some supporters’ culture, which is frowned upon as one of the reasons why it is difficult to attract family fans who bring children to the K League, has been steady.
Ha says, “I think swearing while excited about a game is just a way to vent your feelings, and I wish it was a culture of enjoyment. It’s often said that football is a war, but it’s not really a war, so I don’t know why we’re ‘over-immersed’ in it.” He added, “Just because European cheering culture is violent, why should we be violent too? We can make our own,” he emphasized.
“I think it can also be a good education for children. “I think it’s a good education for kids, because they see players playing hard and falling down on the ground exhausted, they see the value of giving their best. Win or lose, it can be a really good opportunity to teach them that,” he said. “When some of the fans start swearing in those situations, it can turn a good educational experience into an abusive one. I hope they don’t do that.”
This sentiment is not only directed at opponents and referees, but equally at the Gimpo players themselves. Even if the team loses a game or makes a mistake or performs poorly, the fans applaud rather than criticize. Golden Crew explains that the team’s losing streak was preceded by a group antics such as hanging the hanger upside down, a group anticall to the coach, and blocking the bus after the loss, saying, “Let’s not do that.”
“Last year, we suffered a 1-6 defeat against Gyeongnam FC. At that time, the goalkeeper bowed his head because there was less grass because he had conceded six goals, and he was so sorry. I remember us clapping and shouting, ‘It’s okay, don’t bow your head, that’s worse.'” “Rather than blaming the players, we should cheer louder, shout and clap like crazy. Make them grit their teeth and play harder because they feel sorry for the fans. Only then can we have a sport for the fans and fans for the sport.”
The swearing and slander-free atmosphere of the Golden Crew has naturally led to a number of ‘virtuous circles’. As ‘clean support’ is practiced in the supporters’ section, the atmosphere spreads to the general audience. Fans who sometimes swear at refereeing decisions are asked to refrain from doing so, saying, “The children are listening, please refrain from doing so,” to clean up the atmosphere in the stadium. It’s not just the supporters’ section, but other sections as well. 안전놀이터
The relationship with the players is also good. Since the supporters are the first to show clean support, the players are also more approachable to the fans. Ha says, “Coach Choi Jung-woon also encourages us a lot in the way we cheer. He always says thank you regardless of the outcome of the game and encourages the players to actively engage in fan service,” Ha said, adding, “It is also a driving force for supporters to cheer cleaner.” It’s a virtuous cycle.