ECS co-president Shawn Wheeler was ejected from Saturday’s match because of a sign reading “Anti-Fascist/Anti-Racist/Always Seattle” being displayed in the visiting supporters section.
Tonight an @mls official told me that the "Anti-Fascist | Anti-Racist | Always Seattle" banner is not allowed per league policy because (AND I QUOTE) "we want both sides to be able to come and watch games without politics".— Shawn Wheeler (@zag08) August 18, 2019
If this controversy sounds familiar, that’s because something similar happened two years ago in Vancouver. Unlike that incident, though, ECS was apparently told that displaying the sign could get them ejected on Saturday.
While displaying the sign may have effectively been a protest with a predetermined outcome, it is notable that the Sounders have said they were able to get permission from the league to allow signage with that exact phrasing inside CenturyLink Field. In a letter following the 2017 incident, the Sounders owners called the phrase symbolic of human rights that stood above politics. The Portland Timbers also apparently allow similar phrasing to appear on signs inside Providence Park. The Cauldron unfurled a pregame tifo that covered most of its end at Children’s Mercy Park with effectively that message on Saturday. Regardless of league policy, it would appear that it is being selectively enforced and teams have the option to interpret the rule as they choose.
Meanwhile, several fans in Atlanta were not only kicked out of last week’s match, but also issued stadium bans for displaying signs with similar messages. MLS insists that its rule against political signage applies to this sort of display. ECS, Gorilla FC and Timbers Army have are formally requested for MLS to rescind its ban on politics — a highly subjective standard — from the fan code of conduct.
This all comes against the backdrop of what appears to be growing frustration among supporters groups all over the league who have started posting Twitter messages using the hashtag #AUnitedFront.