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Talks are ongoing between the Seattle Sounders front office and the Emerald City Supporters over the appearance of the Iron Front flag seen in the ECS at CenturyLink Field on July 21 in a game vs. the Portland Timbers.
The controversial flag was flown in both the ECS and Portland’s Timbers Army supporter section at the game. The flag’s roots date back to the pre-World War 2 Germany and its meaning is to support groups or individuals who are anti-fascist. Recently, the militant Anti-Fascist movement, commonly known as Antifa, has used this as a symbol.
This violates the MLS Fan Code of Conduct policy that the league has enacted regarding politically motivated flags or signage at MLS games.
In a statement to ECS, the Sounders front office issued a formal warning to the group condemning their actions on July 21:
“This letter serves as a formal warning for Emerald City Supporters of this violation of the Fan Code of Conduct. In addition, any further displays of political signage at home or away matches will result in a three match (home match) suspension for the individuals involved as well as restricted supporter privileges for a certain number of matches. This includes but not limited to, bringing supporter items to CenturyLink Field, access to parking, home and away ticket privileges, etc.
In response to the Sounders statement, ECS responded and noted that their stance in contrast with the Sounders has helped garner support from other supporters groups around the league, most notably the Timbers Army:
The rights we stand for are not political, they are human rights. No one should be oppressed or persecuted because of who they are. As with all things in life no one should feel they can’t attend a soccer match and support the club they love. Just like the Iron Front symbol, the Emerald City Supporters stand for the oppressed and the persecuted.
In their unanimous decision to declare the three arrows political and ban it from their stadiums, Major League Soccer and its clubs have done the impossible: They’ve united the supporter groups of this league, including ECS and the Timbers Army. We’re proud to stand with them on the right side of history.
Members of ECS and Sounders fans have made their complaints known to the club via social media, texts, and phone calls. Some fans even going as far to not renew their season tickets because of the club’s policy.
Sources told The News Tribune the reasoning behind the Sounders issuing a formal warning to ECS is that team feels the Iron Front flag, and its message behind it, has been co-opted by extreme and violent leftist groups like Antifa, who espouse direct and physical violence towards against those on the right.
The source also noted that supporters groups like the Timbers Army have found other ways to support the anti-facist movement without displaying the Iron Front flag and hopes that ECS can do the same moving forward.
The Seattle Sounders host Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.