The new megabandera (top) unveiled at Toyota Park before the Chicago Fire’s 3-1 win over RBNY yesterday, designed by Section 8 Chicago - an update on the classic original (bottom right) paid for by fans, lost by the Fire many years ago, who compensated fans with this replacement.
Affiliated North American supporter groups to the Independent Supporters Council (ISC) have been marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21st) over the past month with displays on a Show Racism the Red Card theme.
Last night, Section 8 Chicago - the Independent Supporters Association for the Chicago Fire - extended that theme and unveiled a large banner celebrating Chicago and the Fire’s diversity in general. The message, of course, implies a strong opposition to discrimination of any kind but especially homophobia; the Fire’s opponent yesterday was the Houston Dynamo, whose midfielder Colin Clark was serving a suspension last night for his recent anti-gay slur made to a ballboy at an MLS game.
The banners read: “Our City, Our Club. Our Diversity, Our Strength.”
The severe weather made displaying the banner at Toyota Park very difficult - a major thunderstorm caused the game to be delayed 10 minutes in, and it was later abandoned after 66 minutes - but it just about held up. The pictures above also show the making of the banner, which took a total of over 200 man hours by supporters at four builds during the previous week.
Photos of the Chicago Fire mural in Pilsen. This was the backdrop for the XI Kickstarter video. The mural was originally painted in 1998, the year of the Chicago Fire’s first season, by local artist Oscar Romero.
A couple of years ago, the mural had faded; Section 8 Chicago, the Independent Supporters Association for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, and the club’s front office worked together to get it restored. It was repainted, with the club’s new home Toyota Park added to the original Soldier Field representation and other imagery.
Romero pointed to the significance of the project in his comments at the time:
“I was excited from the beginning to restore the mural with the help of the Chicago Fire,” said Romero. “Soccer is a great way to bring people of different backgrounds together. The Fire team and its fan base are a multicultural team: Latino, Mexican, Polish, Caucasian, African-American – I hope this mural serves to unite the different backgrounds in Chicago behind one word – soccer.”
This is why XI thought filming in front of the mural would be fitting for the magazine in its introductory video, as the publication’s focus will be exploring the roots, the diversity and the regeneration of soccer in North American places like this.