The Timbers Army plans protest at Sporting KC game against MLS action

In response to a three-game ban on an undetermined number of Portland Timbers fans from attending MLS games at Providence Park, the 107 Independent Supporters Trust -- which encompasses the Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters, who support the NWSL Thorns -- will stage a protest at Saturday's MLS match against Sporting KC.

The protest won't be like the silent treatment the Timbers Army gave the Timbers for the match against archrival Seattle on Aug. 23, but they won't fly any flags or deploy smoke during goal celebrations to protest the ban issued to fans who waved flags with the Iron Front symbol at last Saturday's game against Real Salt Lake.

"Our focus this weekend will be on education," said the 107IST. "We will use banners with words instead of symbols to remind the world of our unwavering opposition to fascism and to discrimination. We will increase our written communication, both inside the stadium and online, about the reasons for our protest and the larger issues that the Iron Front flag ban represents. We will continue to fight for the League to lift the bans for individuals who displayed Iron Front flags and banners on Aug. 31."

Fans had waived Iron Front flags after the silent protest ended after the 33rd minute of the Sounders match but were only issued general warnings.

The emblem of the Iron Front, an anti-Nazi paramilitary organization in Germany in the early 1930s, features three arrows pointing downward. Fans consider it an expression of anti-fascism and anti-racism.

MLS's new Fan Code of Conduct bans the display of political flags, and its position is the Iron Front emblem is political because it has been co-opted by Antifa, the collection of militant protest groups opposed to fascism and other extreme right-wing ideology.

The 107IST's stance is:

-- MLS must rescind its ban on flying the Iron Front flags.
-- MLS must remove the word “political” from its  Fan Code of Conduct as it is inherently arbitrary.
-- MLS must work with international experts on human rights to craft language in the Fan Code of Conduct that reflects and supports radical inclusion and anti-discrimination.

In its latest statement, the 107IST insisted its fight isn't with the Timbers, and it looked forward to working with the Timbers' front office in its fight against white nationalists and white supremacists.

For their part, the Timbers said they were encouraged that MLS will soon be engaging with the 107IST on the issues addressed. They said they supported "explicit and creative anti-fascist and anti-racist expression" but noted they (and all other MLS teams) need to enforce league rules like the current Fan Code of Conduct.

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8 comments about "The Timbers Army plans protest at Sporting KC game against MLS action".
  1. Leonik Ahumada, September 6, 2019 at 6:46 a.m.

    These fans should consider why they are at a soccer game and not at a political rally or street protest. Hopefully they are there to support their team and enjoy a good match. And therefore the flag choices should reflect just that. 

  2. Wooden Ships replied, September 10, 2019 at 11 a.m.

    Perfectly stated Leonik. 

  3. Wallace Wade, September 6, 2019 at 8:45 a.m.

    Don’t buy tickets, don’t buy concessions, don’t buy merchandise, don’t attend the matches. It’s simple. Much more effective.  

  4. Bob Ashpole, September 6, 2019 at 9:21 a.m.

    Allowing political speech at matches is a potential nightmare as the content of political speech, i.e., even the worst crackpots, generally cannot be censored. That is what freedom of speech is about.

  5. Patti Mueller, September 6, 2019 at 10:56 a.m.

    I’m sure the players are really happy about the fact their fans are making the games about themselves and not the team they supposedly support. 

  6. Wooden Ships replied, September 10, 2019 at 10:59 a.m.

    Agreed Patti, it seems to be an increasing trend unfortunately. The “hey, notice me era.”

  7. R2 Dad, September 6, 2019 at 12:23 p.m.

    I find the phrases perplexing. Why Radical Inclusion vs Inclusion? As opposed to Radical Exclusion? Are they hoping to avoid excluding radicals from soccer matches?
    I am unclear how any of this has anything to do with soccer, the Timbers, or MLS.

    This is like those U8 soccer parents that don't know the LOTG and want to change the interpretation of the rules to get the outcomes they prefer. "The ball hit the arm--of course it's Hand Ball!" "My little snowflake fell in the box! That's a penalty! "

  8. Alejandro Cabero, September 10, 2019 at 10:10 a.m.

    the whole USSF and MLS are infused by politic signs and gestures. Each step made by Don Garber and Carlos Cordeiro are and have political consequences. We do not need to go far away to find gestures like "Soccer for All Month" or "Military Appreciation" Hspanic Heritage "Noche Latina" Don't get me wrong, I do not like political flags in futbol games, and I cheer for MLS efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. But we must be honest and recognize that it is extremely dangerous when a franchise like MLS pretends monopolize all political expressions in the soccer environment by banning fans to exprerss themselves in the same way. We have a similar situation here with some Catalan Independent Movement flags at Children's Mercy Park. I believe in the freedom of Speech not just for my ideology but also for the oposite. MLS should take note of how Timber's fans deal with the situation, and also educate instead of Ban.      

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