MLS Commissioner Don Garber Defends Fan Code Of Conduct Policy
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said that the league's Fan Code of Conduct policy, which some supporters groups continue to take issue with, was "created with the intention of encouraging an environment in each team’s stadium that was all about soccer," according to J.J. Adams of POSTMEDIA NEWS. Garber said that the policy, which does not allow political signage to be displayed at games, "doesn’t vary by team, but the interpretation of what is political varies by each district." He added, "The policy is real new, so we’re having a challenge ensuring that it can be managed and executed effectively. ... The flashpoint is the word ‘political’ because everyone interprets the word differently, city by city, market by market. That’s not something that we anticipated." More Garber: "I don’t think that anyone should think that anybody should view the issues that we are having with the Iron Front flag as something that should be questioning our values, because it doesn’t" (POSTMEDIA NEWS, 9/15).
NOT BACKING DOWN: In Seattle, Jayda Evans notes at yesterday's Red Bulls-Sounders match, the "majority of the Sounders’ Brougham End supporters group section walked out at the beginning of the second half." The "exodus from an announced crowd of 37,722 was a sign of unity for an Emerald City Supporters leader who was removed during halftime for displaying an Iron Front flag for the majority of the opening half." The flag’s imagery is "deemed political by MLS and not permitted in its stadiums as of this season." It is the "third time supporters groups for the Sounders have challenged MLS and the club regarding the flag." Supporters groups from multiple MLS teams and the league’s front office are "scheduled to meet Thursday in Las Vegas regarding display of the Iron Front flag." Representatives from teams are "not expected to attend the meeting to allow fans to freely discuss the issue with MLS." Sounders VP/Business Operations Taylor Graham and Sounders front office officials "helped facilitate the meeting." Multiple supporters groups across MLS have "joined under the social media hashtag #AUnitedFront to protest the league’s stance, demanding MLS rescind its ban on the flag, remove 'political' from its Fan Code of Conduct and craft rules that support inclusion and anti-discrimination" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/16). Graham said, "This is not something that is isolated in Seattle. As much as we can have good and productive and honest and direct and sometimes tough conversations with our supporters groups" (SOCCERAMERICA.com, 9/16).
MORE POLITICAL DISPLAYS: In St. Paul, Andy Greder notes "political statements were made in the South stand" of Allianz Field yesterday during Real Salt Lake-Minnesota United. Fans in those sections "started to sing the Italian anti-fascist resistance song 'Bella Ciao,' and a subset of the group displayed images for the Iron Front." One individual was "removed from the stadium" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 9/16).