The conflict between MLS and club fan groups over flying the Iron Front symbol escalated Sunday when members of a Seattle Sounders fan group walked out in protest.
The Emerald City Supporters emptied out the Brougham End of CenturyLink Field in Seattle after their leader was removed during halftime for flying the Iron Front flag, per Jayda Evans at the Seattle Times. Seattle beat the New York Red Bulls, 4-2.
They just kicked out the head of gameday ops, made @WeAreECS take down the iron front symbols which are up to support inclusion for our players from all over the world. This is a sad moment. #SoundersMatchday#AUnitedFront pic.twitter.com/7Ljomh2vzB— Emily Cummings (@emilyrcummings) September 15, 2019
The Iron Front originated in pre-World War II Germany as an anti-Nazi and anti-fascist organization. The Nazis banned it in 1933. The symbol, which is three arrows pointed southwest continues to be used by those who oppose fascism and totalitarianism.
MLS implemented a new policy in its fan Code of Conduct this year to remove politics from stadiums. The league deems it political and does not allow it to be flown in stadiums since it is “widely associated with Antifa.” It hasn’t gone over well, particularly in the northwest where fans in both Seattle and Portland are fighting to fly the Iron Front flag.
The group left a noticeable mark by leaving an announced crowd of 37,722. One person was seen still flying a “Anti-Fascist | Anti-Racist | Always Seattle” flag. It’s at least the third time the group has fought the ban during a game, per the Times.
What’s left after the walkout... pic.twitter.com/rv9gzqwlgl— Jayda Evans (@JaydaEvans) September 15, 2019
The Sounders organization previously apologized to fans for its wording in supporting the ban. In August, fans of both the Portland Timbers and Sounders joined in a 33-minute silent protest during a match in Portland. And earlier this month, MLS suspended several members of the Timbers Army fan group after they flew the Iron Flag during an Aug. 31 match.
The league’s front office is scheduled to meet with multiple club supporters groups Thursday in Las Vegas to discuss the issue, per the Times. MLS team representatives will reportedly not be in attendance to allow fans more freedom to speak openly. It will be a difficult situation to resolve.
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