“We believe that no matter how many fans you are, indiscriminate swearing and out-of-line behaviour is unacceptable.”
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 opponents or referees during matches, they applaud their favourite Gimpo players even when they are not performing well. This is definitely a different direction from some K League supporters who are frowned upon.안전놀이터
Chairman Hagi Woong said, “When I started Golden Crew, I told myself to keep one thing in mind. It’s ‘never criticise the players. And this also applies to the opposing team’s players. “Without fans, there would be no sport, but even if you’re a fan, you can’t tolerate indiscriminate swearing and out-of-line behaviour. Athletes are individuals and people too. There is 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 matches, or even take collective action when their favourite team is performing 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 when you’re excited about a game is just an excuse 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, so I don’t know why we’re ‘over-immersed’ in it.” “Just because European cheering culture is violent, why should we be violent, too? We can make our own,” he said.
“I think it can also be a good education for children. “I think it’s a good education for kids because they see players who play hard and fall down on the ground exhausted, and 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 you have some fans swearing in that situation, it can turn a good education into a swearing match. I hope they don’t do that,” he added.
This attitude is not only directed at opponents or 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 criticise. 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 a 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 he had less grass because he had conceded six goals, and he was so sorry. I remember that we clapped and shouted, ‘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 practised in the supporters’ section, the atmosphere spreads to the general public. 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.
The relationship with the players is also good. Since the supporters are the first to show clean support, it is easier for the players to approach 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’s a driving force for the supporters to cheer cleaner as well.” It’s a virtuous circle.
Golden Crew’s ‘clean support’ also extends to opposing supporters. At home games at Gimpo Solter Football Stadium, the team treats away supporters as guests and strives to create a good atmosphere between supporters at the stadium. During the game, the supporters are fierce, but at the end of the day, they are also fans who love Korean football.
A chance encounter against Daejeon Hana Citizens last year helped them open their hearts to other teams’ supporters. “After cheering really hard, both teams’ supporters were clearing their seats after the game, and just for fun, I shouted out to the Daejeon supporters on the other side, ‘Goodbye, see you next time,’ and the Daejeon supporters shouted back, ‘Thank you for your hard work, it was fun! It was very fun, rewarding and good,” he explained.
“After that, we continue to shout ‘Goodbye, goodbye’ to our opponents on the road to Gimpo after the game. Sometimes it’s taken as a mockery and sometimes it’s called back (laughs). When that happens, I refrain from reacting and say, “I guess it’s because we won. We do it for every team, regardless of the result, but sometimes people get the wrong idea.”
Golden Crew also organises gifts for opposing fans travelling to Gimpo. At an FA Cup home game against FC Seoul last month, the club provided bottled water for more than 600 travelling fans, creating a buzz among other fans. The supporters explain that they care about away fans because there are no convenience stores near the stadium. Recently, they also gave bottled water to the away fans of Gangwon, and the Gangwon fans expressed their gratitude on Golden Crew’s SNS the next day, creating a heartwarming scene.
“We want to continue to make a good impact in this way,” says Hae-woong. “After all, supporters are a group of people who passionately express their love for football by travelling to faraway places. They cheer passionately during the game, and support each other before and after the game.