Some soccer fans in Venezuela took football hooliganism to new levels of absurdity in a recent incident at the nation’s capital, Caracas. The incident involved followers of Venezuela’s first division team, the Deportivo Tachira, whose players donned pink team soccer uniforms instead of their traditional black and yellow kits in a match against Atletico Venezuela. The uniform switch was intended for a noble cause—promoting breast cancer awareness.
During the week leading up to their match, the Tachira team had already been actively promoting the cancer awareness theme for their game. The team’s Twitter account continuously plugged prior to the game the blurb “juntos por una noble causa” (together for a noble cause) as a promotional teaser. Free admission to women wearing pink was likewise given, except at the stadium’s lower level.
A core of Tachira followers, however, appears not as avid supporters of the Senos Ayuda Foundation, a non-profit cancer charity, whose cause their team espoused. Around 30 to 40 of the team’s fans rose from their seats upon seeing the Tachira players in pink team soccer uniforms, invaded the football field, and refused to leave. The riot police had to be called to contain the protesting fans who took to the pitch waving replicas of the regular black and yellow Tachira soccer uniforms, many of them chanting something about “defending their colors,” while others took to singing the Venezuelan national anthem.
The protest went on for more than thirty minutes and ended only after the players left the field. The match between Tachira and Atletico Venezuela was suspended, and the paying spectators were assured that their ticket purchases will be refunded.
This incident, silly as it may seem, demonstrate how football teams can move fans much beyond the urge to buy soccer uniform that identify them with their idolized athletes. What may have aggravated the fans’ violent reaction against the pink team soccer uniforms was Tachira’s lowly standing in the Apertura Venezuela tournament at the time of the incident. To these team followers, it could indeed be quite discomforting to watch their pink-clad Tachira eleven, seven-time champion in the local league, languishing in eleventh place in the tournament, notching two draws, four wins and as many losses.
Some sports observers likewise believe there are soccer fans who are prejudicial against pink uniforms because these football followers view the pink color as too soft and untouchable. There’s some credibility, therefore, to reported sentiment among fans in the NFL that the use of this color be limited. These instances can perhaps include pink-colored uniforms only for soccer training, exhibition games, or even junior soccer coaching, but not in regular tournaments where matches can be so bitterly fought that pink may be indeed anathema to the game.