WASHINGTON, D.C. — One member of Emerald City Supporters (ECS) was hospitalized and several others were hurt after allegedly being assaulted by D.C. United fans following Sunday’s match.
Multiple witnesses reported that as they were leaving the game, a group of approximately 10-15 people initiated an attack after two unidentified supporters attempted to take equipment belonging to ECS. Sounder at Heart has spoken with several of the alleged victims, but is not identifying them for this story.
According to those witnesses, the issue began as ECS left Audi Field. Stadium security held the group back in the designated supporters section at Audi Field until approximately 15 minutes after the game, which is standard around MLS. However, no escort was provided to the group outside the stadium. Those witnesses were told by security, “our jurisdiction ends at the gate.”
The security presence in the section appeared to be limited, and little guidance was provided to the supporters immediately after the game according to witnesses. Several smaller groups splintered off from the main group and left the section early.
As one group of supporters left the stadium, a group of 10-15 people — identified by the witnesses as D.C. United supporters — attempted to grab from members of ECS equipment used to wave flags. One supporter was punched in the face and subsequently kicked and punched on the ground when they attempted to prevent the group from taking the equipment. At least two other supporters were attacked in a similar fashion. One woman was attacked when she went to assist by jumping on the fallen ECS member, in an attempt to protect him. She was then kicked and punched as well while covering him. Another woman had a supporters scarf forcibly taken and was also assaulted.
Most of the injuries were not serious, and involved bruises, cuts and scrapes. However, one member was taken to the hospital with what is believed to be an injured jaw and other injuries to the head. That member remains in the hospital receiving treatment, but appears to be in fair condition.
There is no indication that ECS provoked or initiated the confrontation. The incident occurred just outside the exits of Audi Field, according to witnesses. It’s unclear whether any video or other surveillance captured the altercation.
The Sounders were in contact with the front office of DC United shortly after the incident, and released a comment.
“Seattle Sounders FC is aware of the reported incident that took place following tonight’s match against D.C. United at Audi Field. Alongside our colleagues at D.C. United and Major League Soccer, we are in the process of gathering all the necessary facts in the most thorough and efficient manner possible. Our appreciation for our fans runs deep. They are an integral part of our club culture, and the relationship between our fans and the team is what makes our club so special. With this in mind, nothing can be more important than fan safety, and we are taking tonight’s allegations of physical altercations seriously. We want our fans to understand that we are working expeditiously to get to the bottom of this matter, and once that process is complete, the organization will provide additional information.”
D.C. United said normal MLS protocol was followed and that they’d be working with local police as well as checking camera footage to help identify the assailants.
Both ECS and Barra Brava released statements as well, which are reproduced below.
“After Sunday’s match at DC United, ECS members were attacked by DCU supporters while exiting Audi Field. ECS is assisting SSFC & MLS in identifying the cowards who perpetrated this unprovoked attack. ECS has always condemned violence in the soccer community and continues to do so.”
“If the individuals involved are identified and are members they will be banned from group and hopefully arrested. We have a very strong track record over many years of our members not tolerating or behaving in this manner. If there are pictures or a description send it our way.”