Major League Soccer Reverses Ban On Antifa Symbol At Games After Backlash
Portland, OR – Major League Soccer (MLS) has changed its rules to better accommodate antifa members who want to display the Iron Front symbol during games.
Earlier this season, MLS implemented a fan code of conduct, which prohibits “using [including on any sign or other visible representation] political, threatening, abusive, insulting, offensive language and/or gestures, which includes racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist or otherwise inappropriate language or behavior,” The New York Times reported.
But independent Portland Timbers fan group Timber Army and independent supporters of other MLS teams joined together to stage protests against the code of conduct, and argued that they should be allowed to display the Iron Front Symbol, KATU reported.
The three-arrow symbol was first used during World War II to protest Nazis.
More recently, it has been adopted by violent antifa activists who think they are fighting literal Nazis and assault people who disagree with them.
Several fans were banned for three matches after they waved flags depicting the symbol at a game earlier this season, according to KATU.
Protesters argued that the symbol is not political, and claimed it simply represents opposition to persecution and fascism, The New York Times reported.
After representatives from the team fan groups met with MLS President Mark Abbott in Law Vegas on Sept. 19, the league opted to allow fans to display the Iron Front symbol for the duration of the season.
The league will also create a working group to re-examine the code of conduct, The New York Times reported.
“This working group will include representatives from the league office and clubs and work collaboratively with leaders of club supporter groups and a cross-section of diversity and inclusion experts,” Abbott told the paper.
The team supporters groups released a statement praising MLS leaders for allowing the Iron Front symbol to return to league games.
“The Independent Supporters Council and supporter groups for the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders F.C. acknowledge the league’s willingness to discuss these complex issues, as well as the league’s affirmation of its longtime opposition to racism, fascism, white supremacy, white nationalism and homophobia,” the groups said in a statement to The New York Times.
“We appreciate Major League Soccer’s willingness to engage, listen, and learn,” the statement continued. “We look forward to continuing the dialogue, moving away from direct action in the stands on this issue, and instead focusing our energy on making progress around the table.”
Earlier this year, a fan was removed from Providence Park for waving a Trump 2020 flag, The New York Times reported.