DC United fan groups to protest against pre-season Saudi camp at MLS openers

February 21 – DC United supporters plan protests after their franchise’s pre-season training camp in Saudi Arabia.

On Saturday, Washington-based DC United open their MLS season at home to New England Revolution, but five fan groups – Buzzard Point Social, District Ultras, 202 Unique, Rose Room Collective and La Banda Del Distrito – will push back against DC’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia. The protest will extend over the team’s first home matches.

“D.C. United Supporter Groups will not be providing organized support for the first four matches in protest of the club’s preseason partnership with the Saudi Government,” the groups said in a statement.

“This includes no drums, flags, or banners. The club’s stated values of being ‘Relentless, Deliberate and Decisive’ must also include a deliberate respect for human rights.”

United had all expenses paid in the Arab Kingdom and received appearance fees for a 17-day visit. They played four friendlies – two against Saudi outfits and two against Sudanese clubs. American media report that the trip could be the first step in closer ties between DC United and Saudi Arabia with Saudi clubs potentially playing exhibition matches in DC and the franchise returning for another winter camp in the future.

Another fan group, The Screaming Eagles, won’t protest. They said: “We will always stand with our players and coaches on the field who were clearly not part of the decision to go to Saudi Arabia. At the same time, we fully understand and respect any group’s choice to not provide organized support through the first four matches of the season.”

The group will reportedly make donations to human rights causes in Saudi Arabia.

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