In response to members of ECS being removed from B.C. Place for displaying and refusing to remove a sign that read “Anti-fascist/Anti-racist/Always Seattle” Seattle Sounders ownership released this statement:
The most relevant lines in the statement are these: “Tolerance and inclusiveness are pillars of our society, and ideals we take seriously as an organization. At a human level, we believe these values to be non-political. Speaking up for equality is simply the right thing to do.”
While likely not as strongly worded as some would prefer, it’s not very hard to read between the lines on this. One thing worth noting is that this clearly comes from the highest level of the organization. In eight years covering the team, I don’t remember a single instance when a statement included the signatures of all four owners. Including the phrase “non-political” is also surely no accident. The very reason MLS gave for removing the sign was the league’s position that it was political in nature. This strongly suggests the Sounders are keenly aware of the issues at hand.
It’s also worth recalling the Sounders’ actions on Sunday, as club officials went out of their way to help ECS not only get the banner into the stadium but also to have it displayed. After the sign was originally confiscated at the gates of B.C. Place, a Sounders front office official arranged to have it returned. The banner was then displayed for at least a half before MLS officials demanded it be removed. After refusing to remove the banner, several ECS members were told to leave the stadium or risk arrest.
As for what this means moving forward, the Sounders have given no indication they intend to enforce signages rules any differently than they have all season. This sign has been regularly displayed at Sounders home games for at least a couple months with the approval of the front office.
An MLS spokesperson said on Monday that the league would be issuing a statement of its own, but more than 31 hours later none has been forthcoming and it now appears none will be.