Firstly, as President of the Sounders FC Alliance Council, I would like to personally apologise for the late changes in dates, venue and format of the Alliance Annual Business Meeting.
I would like to take a few moments and give some comments and colour regarding the 2019 Annual Business Meeting; specifically addressing some of the questions Alliance Council has received and to extinguish the speculative, inaccurate and sometimes malicious commentary that has been circulating.
Firstly: Alliance Council took your feedback from the past two Annual Business Meetings to heart. We heard that the streaming worked for many – but that you missed a lot of the connection and contacts that came from a larger in-person event. The two Annual Business Meetings that were held in the Ninety were smaller in size – but the number of RSVPs to attend were small. In addition we supported the Club in setting up the now annual Fan Appreciation event during the Summer – which allowed a lot more of us to celebrate, meet with players and listen to our ownership and General Manager.
Secondly: the Annual Business Meeting is an important review of the year for Alliance members. Our Constitution demands the meeting at the close of the playing season. This requires a partnership with the Club at all levels. Without this partnership it is near impossible to hold a meaningful meeting – you expect and deserve representation from Alliance Council, Ownership, Front Office and our General Manager.
Since December 2018, Alliance Council have been requesting a larger, in-person event. The club was broadly supportive. During the Spring and Summer our working group was meeting to discuss the requirements and logistics for such an event. During the Fall of this year we were jointly reviewing venues that would support this in-person event. Our original preference for a date was before the playoffs, during the international break. Club limitations prevented this. We settled on a date in mid-November. We had a date, a venue and started the communication.
There was a wrinkle. We knew that our strong finish in the West would mean home playoff games. We knew that permutations in the East gave a small chance of a home final. Then we beat LA. We all held our breath while Toronto did their piece. The Front Office went into MLS Cup overdrive – selling out the stadium, preparing for our biggest home game – and also planning for a potential parade in the week following the cup game.
Hosting the cup, celebrating the parade – that meant that the original meeting could not happen on the same day. Complications were added as ownership and our General Manager were being pulled across the continent for league and confederation business. It’s December – and at short notice most venues are not available. This is where we are.
As I said – we listened – and winning our second star got in the way.
Democracy in Sports requires being thoughtful. Our ask for 2020 is that the Front Office work with Alliance Council early – and lock down the Annual Business Meeting for 2020. We ask that the date and venue details are communicated pre-season so we can have the Annual Business meeting that we all expect and deserve.
During our October and November 2019 Alliance Council meetings, we discussed a set of amendments to Alliance Bylaw 3 – describing how the Alliance Council can make formal statements.
Alliance Council has always had two types of statement that can be formally made:
a Binding Resolution – which is sent for Alliance-wide consideration and vote
an Opinion Statement – which is voted on by the Alliance Council
The Bylaw 3 amendment clarifies some of the language and intent for this – and also gives a clear outline of a process where the Alliance Council Executive can make a rapid Opinion Statement on behalf of the full Alliance Council. We have seen recently several cases where this would have been beneficial.
BYLAW 3. METHODS OF INTRODUCING TOPICS FOR A BINDING VOTE OR NON-BINDING OPINION STATEMENT There are three types of statements that the Council may make: Binding Resolution, Binding Resolution for Alliance-wide Vote and Non-binding Opinion Statement. Alliance Members may propose resolutions or statements through an Alliance Council member.
3.1 Procedure for Proposing a Binding Resolution. The procedure for proposing a Binding Resolution is as follows: a) Provide a copy of the proposed resolution or statement to the Executive Committee; b) If approved by majority vote of the Executive Committee, best efforts shall be made to schedule the first reading of the proposed resolution or statement on the Council agenda within the next sixty (60) days; c) At the meeting where the first reading takes place, the Council Member who presented the proposal shall read the proposal and a discussion on the matter shall take place; d) At the next scheduled Council Meeting where quorum is present, a vote shall be taken on whether to pass the proposal.
3.2 Binding Resolution to be Proposed for Alliance-Wide Vote. To initiate an Alliance-wide vote on a binding resolution by the Alliance, the question must be approved for an Alliance-wide ballot by a two-thirds vote of Quorum. Prior to voting to put an issue to the Alliance, the Council shall invite the Club to attend a meeting and discuss the issue fully. After an affirmative vote to place a binding resolution on an Alliance-wide ballot, and with at least thirty (30) days prior notice, the question shall be considered by the entire Alliance during the next Alliance-wide voting period as established in the bylaws.
3.3 Non-Binding Opinion Statement by the Council. To pass an opinion statement by the Alliance Council, the question must be approved by a majority vote of Quorum. This may be done at any meeting of the Council where the Opinion Statement is proposed.
3.4 Non-Binding Opinion Statement by the Executive Committee on behalf of the Council. If a time sensitive issue arises that demands a Non-Binding Opinion Statement, the Executive Committee may, by majority vote, make such a statement. This may be done only after first conferring with the Council via electronic or telephonic means and providing an opportunity for input from the Council.
3.5 Council Votes on Matters Proposed by the Club. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Club may request the Council make a statement on any issue that the Club sees fit; such a request does not require a sponsoring Council member or second. All requests from the Club shall receive consideration, discussion, and a vote by the Council or Executive Committee and the Club shall be entitled to send a Club representative to the Council meeting to speak on the issue during the discussion. The Club should make requests through the Alliance Council President and provide thirty days of notice for such matters.
We, the Seattle Sounders Alliance Council, believe that soccer is more than a sport.
With its roots in community and accessibility, soccer brings a diverse range of people together for the sheer love of what we all know as the Beautiful Game.
Soccer does not care if you are old or young, fit or out of shape, male or female, short or tall. All soccer needs is a space and something to kick around; bring the people and it will do the rest. Which is why we believe it is our collective responsibility to uphold the core inclusive values of the sport where we see them threatened.
There is no place more important to the commitment of inclusion than within MLS – the highest professional level of soccer in the US and Canada.
We believe that the proposed league wide Chick-fil-A partnership is in direct conflict with these values. Chick-fil-A, its ownership and affiliated Foundation, have a demonstrated position that is anti-inclusive in action and words.
We recognize that not every fan is going to be in agreement, and that some will see this as a political position. Diverse points of view are welcome as part of the community that soccer brings together for a common joy. However, we believe that respecting individual choices and perspectives doesn’t require entering into financial contracts with organizations that promote inequality and non-acceptance.
It was June 16, 2015 on a gorgeous summer evening at Starfire Sports Complex. There aren’t very many better ways to spend a summer evening than with a beautiful clear sky, a gentle breeze, a great beer garden, and some badass footy about to happen on the pitch right in front of you. Parking sucked, our enemy was in our fair city, and trains were rolling by. It was perfect. And then it wasn’t.
The center referee was Daniel Radford. I didn’t know enough yet to hate him. The front office staff had already challenged his experience earlier in the week, but I wasn’t overly concerned – this was Open Cup and there were typically a lot of guys on the pitch without a ton of experience. I had my hot dog, I had my beverage, I had my friends, and I had a great view. Let’s effing go.
The procession began and… wait wait wait! – we have two dark teams on a dark green turf. Even while it was daylight, it wasn’t easy to distinguish Sounders from Termites (Timbers). As it got darker, it became more difficult to see who was who. Was this ref confused? His calls were not making sense. Radford, quite simply, was a mess. He was nitpicking strange things: throw-ins for instance. He made people start over. He called things back. He made very tough calls over embellishments and flops. He was micromanaging the smallest pebbles when he should have been paying attention to the avalanche. It was laughable except there was nothing funny about it. It was a disaster. Emotions were getting hotter and hotter.
Halftime: Sounders changed into white jerseys to help our boys see each other on the pitch. Portland had come to Seattle with only their green kits. I’m not sure this helped Radford, but it did help us in the stands.
49th Minute: The Termites score. Rodney Wallace gets one by Troy Perkins.
69th Minute: Brad Evans received his second yellow over nothing. Daniel Radford, had he had the experience of a seasoned referee should have controlled the match with some reason. Instead, he tried to control the match with penalty cards. Now, we’re down our Sheriff: Brad Evans is out of the match over an absolute joke call. Brad sloooooowly walks off the pitch.
Sounders’ Obafemi Martins immediately scores to bring us even 1-1.
85th Minute: Play resumes and the unthinkable happens: there’s a tangle at midfield and Oba goes down and stays down. He lifts his head up to call for help, and though none of us in the stands can hear it, we know this is bad. Radford, in the only good action he took all night calls for team trainers who eventually get medical staff. Oba is taken off the field on a gurney. Seattle had just used the third and final substitute – we’re now down to nine men on the pitch and heading to overtime. What a night. Can’t we get a new center ref in extra time?
100th minute: Rodney Wallace again: BLAM! Another goal for the Termites.
112th minute: Michael Azira wins a ball (Fernandez flops – the effing effer) and for his efforts, Azira is accused of tossing an elbow: red card, ejected. Seattle has eight men on the pitch. Seattle has eight men on the pitch. Ross Fletcher called the match that night and in amazement announced, “Seattle will end this game WITH. EIGHT. MEN.” Oh Ross. You were so wrong. We all were.
At this point, members of both teams are walking around on the turf, waiting for Azira to exit and waiting for FishFlopFernandez to get his sorry ass up. I might be showing my personal views, but I don’t care (my heart rate is up as I type this out, too). Anyway, all of a sudden, Radford shoots up another yellow like he’s some kind of pop-up clown! What is going on now? Pop! Another card! Pop! Another card! Dempsey got a yellow card for walking by. Now, I’m not naïve, so I’m going to assume that walk included colorful language which generated the yellow. And then: ZING: a RED. Click the link to the video and halfway through it you see Clint Dempsey pick up Daniel Radford’s book and rip it up. Clint Dempsey tore up the referee’s book! I remember that glorious moment. Finally a red card was earned! Some people say Clint Dempsey lost his mind, but I disagree: I think he found it. I think he felt the accumulated angst and frustration of all of us in Sounderland that night and he did what he needed to do for us.
Only fourteen seconds had passed; it was still the 112th minute. Now Dempsey had been issued a red card and ejection. Head Coach Sigi Schmidt was standing over in the corner – our head coach had separated himself from the bench: he’s away from all officials. I feel ya’ Sig. I get it. At this point, there’s pushing and shoving on the pitch. Dempsey wanted to speak his mind with Radford. Sounders were stepping in. The crowd was getting louder and louder, and a water bottle landed about five feet onto the pitch. Seattle had only seven men on the pitch. Portland was still at eleven. The score was 1-2, Portland. Ty Mears, Andy Rose, and Chad Marshall all helped Clint make his way to the sideline.
116th minute: Max Urruti scored again for Portland and the Termites celebrated the goal. They were still wildly celebratory when their opponent had only seven men on the pitch. That’s rivalry.
Three and a half minutes later the final whistle blew: our Open Cup hopes were smashed that year. A police escort got Radford out of the area, that jackass.
Trash cans were overturned onto the pitch. Soda cups landed on the turf, along with more water bottles. We all know not to throw stuff onto the pitch: every single one of us knows that. But the emotional outrage was so strong, that some of us couldn’t control the angry energy. I’m not better than any person who let loose; I just think perhaps I didn’t have anything that I wasn’t willing to part with. The evening was that upsetting.
Over the coming weeks, Clint Dempsey was vilified in social media for putting his Club in jeopardy. We didn’t have Oba, and because of Clint’s actions, we didn’t have his striking capacity for a while either. He was blamed for our losing streak. He lost his captaincy of the U.S. Men’s National Team. He was suspended several matches of U.S. Open Cup play (six matches or two years of play, whichever was greater).
I understand why people were so mad at Clint, but I think what we gained outweighs what we lost. We, as fans, walked in expecting to win this match – I know I did. We gained renewed interest in a rivalry which had grown a bit ho-hum. We gained a villain. Dempsey had a reputation for being a bit of a bad boy, but he showed the world he was our bad boy: unpredictable, hot-headed, and man of the people. He actually did what every Sounders fan in that stadium wanted to do. He didn’t just breathe new life into a rivalry, he breathed fire into it! Post-match, the Sounders chant went on forever, and it was loud. We wanted Oba to hear us on the exam table. We wanted those Termites to hear us as they loaded their bus. I remember watching the flashing lights of the police escort as it made its way out toward Fort Dent Way: my chest was tight with pride and we were still chanting. We wanted Radford to hear us all the way out there.
*Red Wedding is an episode of the HBO series Game of Thrones, in which nearly everyone in one beloved family dies. A few seasons later, the family returns to greatness. Red Card Wedding is a fabulous and apt reference. As much as the 2015 season was painful, Red Card Wedding is now Sounders lore. Dempsey’s actions have become legendary. It’s unlikely we’ll remember ten years from now why Azira got a red card, perhaps not even our own Sheriff. But Clint: tearing up a referee’s book is now historical. This is the kind of match that four thousand people attended and fifteen thousand will say they did: the stories have been recounted so many times that people think they remember being there. It was that good.
Back in the summer of 2016 Alliance Council worked to update, clarify and modernise our Constitution and Bylaws. Ultimately the Alliance Constitution was sent out for an Alliance-wide vote for ratification.
Part of this body of work was updating our Bylaws; one of those Bylaws, Bylaw 9, concerned membership of Alliance Council.
23 May 2019
By Martin Buckley
Alliance Council has worked with the Club since 2013 to offer Alliance members a voice in their choice of scarf for the following season.
This summer we are excited to announce that the design contest and vote for the 2020 Alliance Scarf will return. Look for communication on the timeline and entry details soon.
I thought it would be interesting to peek behind the scenes of the scarf design contest and vote – and see how your Alliance Council are working to represent you. The process starts in the Spring – when we start discussing the timelines, improvements and process on running the contest.
The Club starts the ball rolling with the opening of the design phase of the competition. The designs come in from all kinds of fans – young, old, crayons to professional design. After the close of submissions – then Alliance Council gets really involved. This is where we get to discuss the designs among ourselves and reduce the many dozens of submissions to a final five.
In years past we received all kinds of images and documents – and tried to shuffle them by email. Hard work. For the last few years Alliance Council have been voting electronically and reviewing online. That’s a lot easier. We have seen some incredible designs – and getting to that final few involves a few rounds of voting. It’s a lot like the World Cup – I place the scarves in groups (splitting similar designs across the groups) and the Alliance Council workgroup vote for the best of each group. In the past top two from each group have gone on to the final round of Alliance Council review. That’s where we really think hard and vote on the final five. The final five – as selected by Alliance Council – are then passed back to the Club.
For 2018 the Club offered to make prototype scarves for each of the finalists, have them available at the Fan Appreciation event, and to give each finalist designer a copy of their scarf. That turned out better than we ever expected. Having scarves to see really helped fans imagine what the scarf would look like – and drove a lot of interest in the fan vote.
The fan voting is where we see a lot of discussion on social media. Everyone has opinions – and right until the close of voting we see a great deal of commentary about the various scarves.
The result of the fan vote is kept secret – and is usually revealed at the Alliance Annual Business meeting.
As part of our discussion about the future of Alliance Council – and how to best represent the fans in a full stadium – the 2019 Alliance Council worked during March and April to create a mission statement, or North Star, that works for us today and into the future. Everything we do, every project and working group, should be reviewed through this lens. Are we doing the right thing? Should we place our efforts elsewhere?
Here our guide; our mission statement; our North Star:
The Seattle Sounders FC Alliance Council strives to achieve the best fan experience in North American soccer and to build upon our historical foundation in order to preserve the Club we love.
We do this by being the voice of the fan and by upholding the principles of Democracy in Sports.