04 January 2011

Borough Boys interviewed for Jungle World.

(Click above for direct link to the website and original article)
Excellent article written by our friend in Germany Sven Sakowitz about the return of the Cosmos and the Borough Boys supporters club.
Obviously this is the German translation to English via help from the author and google translate.

Twice in a Lifetime.

In two years the legendary U.S. Soccer Club Cosmos New York could join again in the professional league.

Surprise! The legendary soccer club New York Cosmos is suddenly back. The entry into the U.S. professional league can indeed take place until 2013 - is an endearingly quirky fan club but it already.

When the great Pele had his first really important appearance in front of New York's journalists, he arrived two hours late. On June 10, 1975 more than 400 media representatives were waiting for the Brazilian superstar at a press conference at the 21 Club. He finally entered the room smiling and announced himself as a new singning of the New York Cosmos soccer team. The best player of all time should hunt for goals in the North American Soccer League. This was a sensation - even though the then 34 year old three-time world champion had passed his zenith.

35 years later, Pele has to make another announcement in New York, and this time he is on time. During the amateur soccer tournament Copa NYC he announced on 1 August in the mid-term of the final, that the 1985 dissolved Club New York Cosmos is back and that he would help shape its development as Honorary President. "It is a privilege that I can do something in return for the sports, that has done so much for me", Pele said with plenty of pathos.

The comeback of the club is made possibley an investor group that recently secured the naming rights. Its chairman, Paul Kemsley, a building-contractor from England, who was also once sat on the board of the Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur. Kemsley wants to tie in to the former popularity of the New York Cosmos.

The heyday of the club is in the years after the obligation Pele. Although they donot reach the play-offs in Pel├ęs first year, soccer is becoming more and more popular. Other stars are coming to New York, including Franz Beckenbauer from Germany, Carlos Alberto from Brazil and the Italian Giorgio Chinaglia.

1977 brings the team the title. The New Yorkers are excited, mascot of Bugs Bunny is running a victory lap after each goal. The majority of the team is likeable and fan-friendly, they party in the Club 54 and has got pop star appeal. "We had something for everyone," it says the goalkeeper Shep Messing in the book "Once in a Lifetime" by Gavin Newsham. "We were international, we were European, we were cool, we were Americans from the Bronx." 1978, 1980 and 1982, the club get the title. Many celebrities appear in the stands and in the locker room. Mick Jagger, Barbra Streisand, Muhammad Ali and Henry Kissinger are seen among the half-naked players. Cosmos belonged to Warner Communications. Its chairman was also Steve Ross - and he used his contacts to link sports and entertainment.

In contrast to this, the plans of the new owners sound almost boring down to earth. Great emphasis will be placed on the training and development of talent. In New York and Los Angeles they have already set up training-bases in which 2000 children and teenagers between eight and 18 years are training. If all goes according to plan,some of them will at some point play for Cosmos in the Major League Soccer (MLS): "Participation in the MLS is our big goal," says Cosmos CEO Joe Fraga in an interview with The New York Times. he is preaching to the choir, the MLS embraces his plans. Through a city derby between Red Bull New York and Cosmos, the league officials are hoping for a boost for Soccer - in New York and in the rest of the country, where football is far behind the big four:s basketball, football, hockey and baseball.

The responsible persons have to be a bit patient. Although the required $ 40,000,000 entrance fee for the MLS are probably present, but they have to wait for the increasing of the league in 2013. MLS is also demanding to build a football stadium. The most recent plans of the Cosmos Board say that this will probably be built in Queens.

"I wish the club all the best and hope, the comeback will be a success - this might be good for the development of soccer in the United States" says political scientist Andrei Markovits of the University of Michigan. "Cosmos was a very important club. It put the football on the American map, was the first global football club. They played good football, and the home games were social events. In Europe, all this was and is always underestimated - but in Europe everything American is underestimated '

Whether Cosmos really is facing a bright future, Markovits can hardly predict: "There are many factors that can be difficult to estimate. The association gets a priori a certain publicity, because the name is known. The creation of a Bronx FC would interest no one. However, if they do not perform well in 2013, the good name won't be of any help. I'm not sure how much time sports fans will allow the club "And he adds:". Especially in New York success is very important, because the supply with good professional sports is huge: There are two baseball teams, two football teams, two basketball teams and three hockey teams, plus Red Bull New York - it is certainly not easy to conquer the city, especially since football is a niche product. "

That the targeted derby between Cosmos and Red Bull could not electrify the masses, because this rivalry is somehow artificial, is none of Markovits' worries: "Maybe it takes some time until the Derby is established, but what do you mean by artificial? What is not artificial about the rivalry between Schalke and Dortmund, for example? When something is slightly older, we call it respectful tradition. If something is of recent origin, people say it is artificial, but tradition has to start at some point. "

Already full of anticipation to the year 2013 are the members of the Cosmos Borough Boys fan club - in which, contrary to what the name suggests, women also participate.

The founding members include the 29-year old Brandon Sonnier from Brooklyn. "We already designed T-shirts, scarves and flags and market them through the Internet", he says. The hard core of the fanclub meets regularly in the Jack Demsey's Pub in Manhattan, more than 1 000 interested people are subscribing to a newsletter, that lets them know about all fan-club's activities.

Founded in 2007, the Borough Boys were originally not a Cosmos fan club, but an initiative for a MLS club within the city limits of New York. Red Bull is playing in New Jersey - too far away and for real, snobbish New Yorkers a one horse town. The all too obvious connection to a beverage company is something the the Borough Boys also do not appreciate, because they say it makes it impossible with the team. At first they put their hopes in Fred Wilpon, the owner of the New York Mets. Hes expressed the intention to establish an MLS club, but never really got into gear.

"The first rumors of a comeback Cosmos we met with scepticism", says Sonnier. "It was unclear how seriously the new name owners are interested in bringing a team to the MLS. Since a meeting with Paul Kemsley, we are sure that they have a sound plan. We try to be as closely as possible with the club and build a vibrant fan scene. "

Sonnier and some of his fan-club friends found a model for that in the Bundesliga. "Many of us have great sympathy for the fans of FC St. Pauli," says Sonnier. "They are proud of their club and support it in an impressive manner. We would like to have the same spirit in our stadium."

However, banners with political statements, which are common in the south stand of the Millerntor, will probbaly not be seen at the Cosmos stadium. "Such a mixing of sports and politics is not common in the United States" says Sonnier. "Although most of our members might well be described as progressive, we are not a political fan club. It is clear that we will not tolerate discrimination such as racism, homophobia or sexism. New York is a colorful, diverse city - and so should be our fan scene. "

A certain Sangesfreude (Loving to sing) should the future fans bring as well. "We collect songs in a songbook, which is now already 50 pages strong", Sonnier says proudly. "Our anthem is' Bridge Over Troubled Water - a beautiful ballad that have been composed by two guys from Queens. Our plan is to sing this song before each kick-off. " This could sound nice. The Borough Boys are having enough time to practice the song.