MLS overturns ban on anti-Nazi Iron Front symbol

September 26 – Major League Soccer is lifting its ban on the Iron Front symbol, an anti-Nazi symbol, for the remainder of the season and the playoffs after sustained protests from fan groups.

The MLS had initially banned the symbol inside stadiums saying it made a political statement that was banned under the league’s code of conduct for fans. The Emerald City Supporters, a Seattle Sounders fan group, said in a statement on its website that the imagery is a symbol of the fight against fascism, oppression and persecution.

They flew a flag bearing the Iron Front emblem, three arrows pointed leftward and down, at a Seattle Sounders match on July 21 and received a warning that their actions violated the MLS code of conduct which prohibits signage that represents an association to a political group.

The decision to overturn the ban came after two meetings between the MLS, Seattle and Portland, soccer fan groups and the Independent Supporters Council.

In a statement the MLS reaffirmed  “its long-time commitment to the values of inclusion and diversity, including opposition to racism, fascism and homophobia and to ensuring that there is no place for repugnant hate speech in MLS stadiums.”

The supporters groups also issued a statement. “The Independent Supporters Council and supporter groups for the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC acknowledge the league’s willingness to discuss these complex issues, as well as the league’s affirmation of its long-time opposition to racism, fascism, white supremacy, white nationalism and homophobia.

“We appreciate Major League Soccer’s willingness to engage, listen, and learn. 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.”

The MLS U-turn comes after fan groups united against the ban. On social media the hashtag #AUnitedFront turned into a rallying cry for fans to vent their anger at the decision. In the derby game between Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders in August, both sets of fans remained silent during the first 33 minutes of the game.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1590956020labto1590956020ofdlr1590956020owedi1590956020sni@o1590956020fni1590956020