PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – After months of controversy, recent fan suspensions, and even protests during Portland Timbers matches, Major League Soccer on Tuesday decided to allow the Iron Front symbol on flags or banners at games.
Until now, waving the symbol was only allowed on hats or clothing this season because it violated the league’s fan code of conduct, which is now under review.
During the past several Timbers matches, the Timbers Army protested Major League Soccer’s fan code of conduct and fan suspensions that followed – which prohibited waving the Iron Front symbol. It’s the one with the three downward arrows.
The league viewed the image as political, associated with antifa, while the Timbers Army saw it as a representation of inclusion.
Now after discussion between the two, the league has changed its stance.
“I think that they appreciated that supporters had legitimate concerns and when we talked at the table it was clear that both sides agree that we reject white nationalism, we reject white supremacy, we reject racism, we reject fascism, we reject homophobia. Everybody agreed on all those things at the table,” said Sheba Rawson, president of the 107-IST nonprofit that backs the Timbers Army.
Major League Soccer said in a statement they’ll allow the Iron Front image for the rest of the season and playoffs as they work with fan groups, teams and even diversity and inclusion experts to review and update their fan code of conduct for next season.
Fans are glad to see it.
“If that’s the way Portland supports the Timbers, then that’s what we should be able to do,” said Timbers fan Michael Christopherson.
And it’s a big win for the Timbers Army and the nonprofit behind it who have been working toward this.
“It means that we can once again send the message that hate is not welcome in the stands and that the stands are a safe place for you,” Rawson said.
Plus, it means an end to the protests and getting back to the atmosphere Providence Park is known for.
“Back to being really loud from well before the first kick to well after the final whistle cheering for the boys, we’re looking forward to it,” said Rawson.
The Timbers tweeted their response to this news, saying in part, “We’re optimistic a more thoughtful code of conduct will be created and appreciate everyone’s willingness to listen, learn and come together.”
The next match is Wednesday night at Providence Park.
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