Recently Major League Soccer has taken harsh steps against DC United’s supporters group the District Ultras and targeted Matt Parsons, an active leader of the District Ultras.
The details of the punishment are widely available. Mr. Parsons lit a smoke device under a two lane car overpass in a march from the tailgating area by all four of DC United’s supporters groups. The brand of smoke device in question is Enola Gay. It is widely used by many supporters groups inside their stadiums and is not known to cause respiratory problems or sickness of any kind inside these stadiums where they are used.
The District Ultras received a “punishment” of not being able to wave flags at the April 9th match vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps. Mr. Parsons received the absolutely ridiculous punishment of a one-year ban from R.F.K. stadium and a MLS league wide ban for the remainder of the 2016 season.
The Independent Supporters Council of North America believes this to be another prime example of the hypocritical, unfair and arbitrary nature of MLS, and it’s member teams, when it comes to dealing with supporters groups.
In this case, MLS consistently uses photos and videos of supporters groups waving flags, putting up creative tifo, lighting safe smoke devices. A widely circulated video showed a MLSSoccer.com employee lighting a smoke device in a MLS parking lot and running through the crowd with the active device. Yet they chose to ban supporters for doing the very things they celebrate.
What should be even more disturbing for supporters and fans of MLS teams is the league action itself in banning Mr. Parsons from ALL venues for 2016. This ban is an alarming trend where the league office arbitrarily, and without cause, is singling out fans, supporters and supporters groups for punishment seemingly based on the whims of faceless individuals hiding behind the league badge.
In this case, Mr. Parsons has been banned from every MLS venue for an action that would not even violate the rules of over 2/3 of the venues he is banned from.
The Independent Supporters Council of North America wants these hypocritical, unfair and arbitrary sanctions to end immediately.
First and foremost, the Independent Supporters Council calls for the ludicrous ban on Matt Parsons to be lifted by DC United and MLS immediately.
Furthermore, we are calling on Ray Whitworth, Vice-President of Security and Operations, to engage with the ISC in developing clear, fair and transparent rules that would regulate league wide bans and sanctions placed on supporters groups or their members.
This random criminalization of supporters and supporter’s culture is a dangerous step by MLS that threatens to derail the very real gains the league has made in recent years.
The Independent Supporters Council was founded in 2009 to advocate for the fair treatment of home and away supporters, promote supporters culture, and oppose both racism and bias inside stadiums in North America.