MLS Fan Groups Resisting League's New Fan Code Of Conduct
No matter who you support on the pitch, we can all work together to reject hate in the stands. Share pics of your Iron Front, anti-fascist match day gear today with @MLS and tag them with #AUnitedFront. Let's show them we mean business. pic.twitter.com/6JKzd82JGg— Timbers Army (@timbersarmy) August 10, 2019
Supporters' groups across MLS are "pushing back against a new league policy that bans the use of political signs and displays at games," according to Jamie Goldberg of the Portland OREGONIAN. MLS has "faced backlash" for banning Iron Front symbol, a source of controversy with Sounders supporters' groups. Fans said that the symbol is "not political because it represents an opposition to fascism and oppression, which are issues of human rights." But MLS is "concerned that the symbol has been adopted by the antifa movement," whose protests have "sometimes turned violent." The fan code of conduct "does not prohibit supporters from wearing clothing with the icon," or from "displaying other signs that espouse anti-fascist, anti-racist or pro-immigrant messaging." The Timbers and several other clubs "worked directly with the league to ensure that the new code of conduct didn't prohibit those types of displays." Members of multiple supporters' groups "pushed back against the ban over the weekend, posting Iron Front imagery on Twitter under #AUnitedFront." Before Saturday's Whitecaps-Timbers game, members of the Timbers Army group "set up a do-it-yourself merchandise table outside Providence Park with Iron Front stencils that fans could use to spray-paint the symbol onto their clothing." Many Timbers fans "donned T-shirts with the Iron Front symbol" during the game (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/12). Whitecaps supporters' group Southsiders VP Paul Sabourin-Hertzog said that his flag carrying the Iron Front symbol was seized by Timbers security at Saturday's match "because they deemed it political speech" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 8/11).
FIRST OF ITS KIND: MLS President & Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott said that the league "worked with all its teams" to devise its new fan code of conduct. Abbott said, "It was the belief of the league and the clubs that fans are at our games to enjoy the game and that there is a place for third-party political organizations or groups to express their views, but that place isn't within our stadiums." The AP's Anne Peterson noted MLS is the "only professional league among the top five" in the U.S. with a "code of conduct that expressly bans political signage" (AP, 8/10).