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MLS: Players union challenges security in Howard incident
by Paul Kennedy, April 17th, 2017 12:17AM
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TAGS:  colorado rapids, mls, sporting kansas city, tim howard


After Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard was hit with three-game suspension for foul language directed toward a fan at the Rapids' MLS match at Sporting Kansas City and altercation with a fan after game, MLS Players Union raised questions about the security at Children’s Mercy Park.

"We are disappointed with the league's handling of the situation involving the Kansas City fans and Tim Howard.  Following the incidents, which involved a verbal exchange with a fan, as well as an altercation after the game, Tim acknowledged his culpability and responsibility for his role.  However, he is the only one involved to do so. Although the Players Union and Tim acknowledge that his conduct was inappropriate, there is further context that should not be lost."

Video posted on Twitter shows Howard exchanging expletives with fans in stands late in the match. Video of the postgame altercation is not available but a source told ESPN FC that Howard grabbed a Sporting Kansas City fan by the arm as he and other players were leaving the field.

"MLS has a detailed Fan Code of Conduct in place under which fans are expected to be respectful to each other and to players," the Union added, "and are prohibited from engaging in disorderly behavior, including obscene or abusive language. The fans involved repeatedly, routinely and openly violated that Code of Conduct, without any repercussions.  It is thus not surprising that there was a reaction from the player."

As for the postgame incident, the union stated, "The security provided by the league and Sporting Kansas City was wholly inadequate to protect players and fans. As Tim was attempting to leave the field, a fan with alcohol in hand was able to come within two feet of him on field level and aggressively scream obscenities in his face.  That is unacceptable behavior anywhere and is not something that players, or anyone, should be subjected to in their workplace. Tim takes responsibility for his actions, but MLS needs to do the same, and send a clear message that it is committed to creating a safe experience not only for its fans, but for its players too."

Sporting KC management took exception to the notion that security was inadequate.

“We put safety first and foremost at Children’s Mercy Park,” Sporting KC president Jake Reid told the Kansas City Star. “If we ever felt at any time that safety was a concern, we would have changed a policy or an action a long time ago. But in response to this, will we look at all the things we do? Absolutely. But I can tell you it’s something we’ve always taken very seriously. We’re one of five clubs that have a dedicated security team on staff full-time. That should tell you the level of seriousness we take with this stuff at the stadium.”

The Rapids had tried to put the matter behind them.

“While this is out of character for Tim, we do not condone these actions,” the Rapids said in a statement. “We accept the league’s decision and look forward to moving past this. The incidents that took place during our match at Sporting Kansas City last weekend do not represent the Colorado Rapids Soccer Club or Tim’s character and beliefs, on and off the pitch.”

The Howard incident was the second time last week the MLS Players Union stepped in on the side of one of its members. It successfully got the suspension of Montreal defender Wandrille Lefevre overturned.

  1. Bob Ashpole
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 1:10 a.m.
    If as Sporting KC says it has control of its fans, then Sporting KC is responsible for allowing its fans to violate the code of conduct by yelling obscenities at the opposing goal keeper. I bet that this harassment traffic is strictly on a one-way street coming at opponents.
  1. Nick Daverese
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 4:25 a.m.
    I am sure Howard has heard worst when he played in Merry old England. His team lost right so I guess he was not in a good mood. Frankly people who think they are safe from retaliation they think they can say anything to famous people. That why a lot of famous people have body guards.
  1. Dan Eckert
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 7:20 a.m.
    Let's suspend the leadership of the KC Security Team for 3 matches (without pay) because they weren't doing their job enforcing their policy. Maybe then they would actually start doing their job.
  1. Quarterback TD
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 9:07 a.m.
    Security is never an issue, the problem is how fast the security can recognize and disengage a potential problem before it becomes a problem. In this case it failed so it's left up to Tim and the hooligan to battle it out. Tim being threatened did what any man/woman would do and prepare to defend themselves. Me personally I think we need to defend ourselves against any attacker and not wait for security.
  1. Derek Mccracken
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 9:22 a.m.
    The SKC president stated, " . . . it’s something we’ve always taken very seriously. We’re one of five clubs that have a dedicated security team on staff full-time." What a b.s. strawman argument. One can both take security very seriously AND be one of the few MLS teams that has a full-time security team on staff, and still be doing things wrong - Still not provide adequate security for players and fans. If an SKC fan,with alchohol, was at field level while heckling a player, SKC security was doing a poor job. Period. So, I suggest Reid stop patting himself on the back and put plans into place so that this type of interaction, at field level, never happens again
  1. Nick Daverese
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 2:01 p.m.
    Quarterback normal people have a tendency to think to hesitate when they are confronted. If your going to be able to walk away after a fight you can't do that. When my youngest son was 15 he was sitting with an idiot who he choose as a friend. Car pulls up with a car full of Latin kings. His so call friend did not think he ran. He bothered one of their sisters. My son was there thinking. My son was a good fighter if he wasn't he would have been killed. He fought with 4 guys with baseball bats and screw drivers. What saved him was he had a heavy winter coat on. Any way he ran when he could he had a broken elbow. And multiple screw driver stab wounds. He was very lucky.
  1. Quarterback TD
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 3:20 p.m.
    Nick, good that your son got away.. street gangs are extremely dangerous and usually carry guns to ensure their victims never talk unless they are going through some sort of unit initiation phase.. And unless you have a death wish one should avoid contact..what do you think Tim should have done? My gut feeling is the hooligan was a coward and if Tim had turned away he would have sucker punch him because he already moved into close range to assault Tim.. There is no justice when someone is killed or hurt but if you can take one or two out before being killed by a pack of animals why not ? Reading about mob attacks in Pakistan an I am sure if every one killed by a mob had a gun and killed 2-5 of their attackers these fools will not be killing innocent people at will..
  1. Paul Amato
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 4:50 p.m.
    I wonder what the fan said that upset Tim so much. You have to figure he has a thick skin, so what allowed this hooligan to get under his skin.
  1. Eve Montgomery
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 5:27 p.m.
    I'm on Howard's side, wholeheartedly ( and I don't live in Colorado). The conduct of soccer fans is at times reprehensible-- here and abroad. No player is paid to be a doormat, subject to obscenities and insults by uncivilized reprobates. in fact I'm very close to saying that I admire Howard for responding in what appears to be a quite appropriate manner. Can you guess what my opinion of the "puto" chant is?
  1. Eve Montgomery
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 5:29 p.m.
    Dan Eckert, I think yours is an excellent idea .
  1. Nick Daverese
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 5:38 p.m.
    If Howard hit him he would get sued. I had a famous friend. He went with friends to eat in an hotel where I had an apartment at the time. It was the Mayflower hotel. Some guys were bothering him. There was a security guy there who did nothing. My friend was A street guy before he became an actor. The other guy started it, but it coast him 30 thousand to settle the law suit. His name was Tony Danza.
  1. Wooden Ships
    commented on: April 17, 2017 at 10:20 p.m.
    Cool name drop Nick, Taxi was a fun sitcom!
  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: April 18, 2017 at 2:10 p.m.
    I side with Howard. I've been there and done that, in the heat of a game or after and even before. Crowd control is really not taken seriously here, for example some months ago I saw holliganism at its worst in Europe, and Mexico, as well here, e.g. Raiders, Rams, games etc. As for soccer hooliganism, if someone would record the obscenities yelled and hurled at players by home team supporters against the opposing team, one could very well write a book. It takes one helluva lot to set off a player, whether instructed by the bench (coach, asst. coach) or other bench warmers, or by fans, but when a supposed "fan" goes out of his sober or alcohol baited breadth to shout insults at players within arm's reach, then something is seriously wrong. I remember taking my wife to the US-Mexi WC playoff game at Azteca Stadium, sitting together with my cousin and her husband, surrounded by supporters of El Tri, when we saw a section of seats up in the second/third level, completely surrounded by a fence, with riot police- "crowd control" guys, virtually and literally gaurding and protecting the handful of US supporters, escorting them into and exiting the stadium. Result was lots of cat-calling and yes, some jokes hurled in good nature by the Tricolor fans against the Americans. On another note, prior to the game, both teams entered and exited the field through an inflated tunnel, affording protection. BUT, as matters stand here in MLS stadiums, the players/teams MUST be protected by unruly crowds and idiotic and supposed ignorant soccer supporters, and maybe, just maybe as in some stadiums, the sale of beer ought to be closed in the "third quarter" or 60th minute of the game, or have MLS stadia use inflated tunnels for the players protection. As for Howard's suspension, what happened to the fool that was the subject of Howard's ire? I feel his suspension should be vacated.
  1. Bob Ashpole
    commented on: April 18, 2017 at 11:16 p.m.
    Good points Ric.
  1. Guy Walling
    commented on: April 19, 2017 at 9:29 a.m.
    If security was doing their job, the hooligan should of been a marked man from the started and prevented from ever entering the pitch after the game. He was not, so security was not thinking safety first. Secondly, did this hooligan get banned from future matches? Probably not, so why not fine management for not thinking safety first! Plain and simple!! Why only come down on Tim? All 3 parties the Hooligan, management, and Tim are responsible and all 3 should suffer consequences, not just one party.

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