UPDATE 2:30 P.M., JULY 16th -- MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER ANNOUNCES SANCTIONS FOR NEXT FOUR AWAY DATES
As many had expected, Major League Soccer handed down sanctions for NYCFC fans today covering their next four road matches. These sanctions will apply at New England this weekend, August 9th at the Red Bulls, August 19th at Columbus, and August 23rd at Los Angeles. As explained by the Third Rail Supporters' Club, the sanctions include:
- No instruments (read: drums).
- No "large flags."
- No tifos.
Earlier this week, the New York Red Bulls announced that they were slicing the number of tickets allotted to New York City fans by two-thirds, from 1,500 to 500. The announcement came as a result of bad behaviour by some New York City fans at Red Bull Arena during the first meeting between the two rival clubs.
"At the last NYCFC game, several smoke devices were lit inside and around Red Bull Arena, including some that were thrown onto the field, causing issues with the match and safety concerns of the fans seated in close proximity," the statement stated in detail. "Although the leaders of the various NYCFC Supporter Group tried to, they were unable to curb the actions of the large group inside the Arena."
Now reports are circulating that additional punishment will be levied by the league against traveling New York City supporters. Those restrictions obviously haven't been revealed, but they could include the following:
- bans on items brought to games — drums, banners, flags, and other rallying devices;
- reductions on ticket allotments;
- language monitoring;
- suspension of travel privileges.
It's unclear when these sanctions will be levied, or even what those sanctions will be. What doesn't seem to be in doubt is that there will be sanctions, and that the behavior of New York City fans is being monitored at the highest levels. Neither the team nor the league was available to comment at this time; we will update once we have heard from them.
This wouldn't be the first time a supporters' group has been sanctioned extensively. The 1906 Ultras, the supporters' group for the San Jose Earthquakes, has long had a reputation for excessive brio, shall we say. However, this marks an unwelcome note for supporters' groups like the Third Rail and Hearts of Oak, who are steadfast in trying to navigate what's often a frustratingly opaque environment when it comes to how New York City FC supporters' clubs can demonstrate their support, at least in Yankee Stadium.
New York City fans often complain, both in online fora and on social media, about the inconsistencies they run into from Yankee Stadium security personnel during games as they perform what other MLS supporters' groups consider to be relatively standard activities. Ultimately, these issues -- along with many others -- won't be resolved until the team has a stadium of its own.
As it stands, there's a rising tide of frustration as supporters wrestle with the conflicting goals of trying to do what others do, whilst existing in a far more restrictive environment. What is clear is that there has to be a resolution, because the current state of affairs isn't helping anyone.