News

A statement from ECS leadership

On July 21st vs Portland, we flew an Iron Front 3 arrows flag in the Brougham End. The three arrows represent our commitment to equality and inclusion, just as our “Anti-Fascist | Anti-Racist | Always Seattle” banners do. Starting in pre-World War 2 Germany, the three arrows have been a symbol of the fight against fascism, oppression and persecution and to this day continue to represent these important values around the world. Fascism is the exact opposite of these beliefs and therefore cannot be allowed to exist in the same space. If we, as a supporter group, as a soccer club, and as a community allow fascists to be comfortable, they will continue to stand in opposition to what we believe. We will not allow that. We will not stop fighting for what is right.

In response to the use of this flag ECS has been issued a formal warning from the Seattle Sounders for violating the Fan Code of Conduct by displaying political signage. You can read the formal documentation we received in the letter below. On Thursday ECS leadership, Gorilla FC leadership, and Alliance Council leadership met with the club to discuss this. The ownership and leadership of the club stated their belief that the Iron Front is a political symbol and cited complaints they received from season ticket holders about the flag as further reason it would not be allowed.

The rights we stand for are not political, they are human rights. No one should be oppressed or persecuted because of who they are. As with all things in life no one should feel they can’t attend a soccer match and support the club they love. Just like the Iron Front symbol, the Emerald City Supporters stand for the oppressed and the persecuted.

In their unanimous decision to declare the three arrows political and ban it from their stadiums, Major League Soccer and its clubs have done the impossible: They’ve united the supporter groups of this league, including ECS and the Timbers Army. We’re proud to stand with them on the right side of history.

CALL TO ACTION

Let the club know (phone calls go further than emails) that the Iron Front is not a political symbol and how you felt when you saw it flying in the Brougham End. If you’re a season ticket holder, reach out to your ticket rep. If you are not a season ticket holder your voice and opinion still matter, use the contact information here. You can also share your opinion with the Alliance Council (read their #CallingFowl statement as well). ECS members are invited to discuss in our forum.

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Update, 8/3/2019: Following a phone conversation on Thursday with ECS, GFC and Alliance Council leadership, Sounders FC sent us the following letter. We appreciate their apology and re-affirmation of the values and beliefs of the club. While we disagree on the classification of the Iron Front symbol as political, we are proud to share the values of equality, inclusion, anti-fascism and anti-racism with the club. We will continue to advocate for change and encourage our fellow supporters in Seattle and across MLS to join us in eliminating fascism from our stadiums, our cities, our league, and our sport. 

The Seattle Sounders are and always have been a club of the greatest ambitions, and history reflects that. That ambition defines the club, we have won trophies by making the shirt sweat and we’ve won them with beauty and goals. We’ve challenged for every trophy available when we were a USL team taking on giants and when we were the giants. When we made the move to the top flight, we weren’t simply happy to be there, we went after silverware and brought it home. Even our youngest Sounders are not content to be with the best, they defeat the best. Success is our legacy and also our expectation, one that we hold for our current players as well as our future, that we will continue to strive for the best with every opportunity and do what we have to to win. 

Portland can't say that, because ambition doesn’t grow on trees.

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This display had the most painted area of any display we’ve produced. The three curtains and overhead totaled 26,500 square feet (0.6 acres), requiring over 1.2 miles of seams to assemble. Our production team constructed and painted the four banners over a 30-day working session. Overall, over 100 ECS members contributed to production, setup and deployment of the display. 

Ambition is an expectation we hold for ourselves as well, always in support of our team’s highest achievements. Displays like this require commitment from our members and we are always looking for more people to contribute. [To learn more and sign up for the next production session, visit our tifo forum here.]

Pride of Cascadia JTPNWMF

For many of us, pride is a safe and easy experience. We can feel pride in ourselves, our city, our club, and our supporters group with no risk to ourselves. For our LGBTQ+ friends and comrades, however, the simple act of being proud to be themselves is a radical and often dangerous act, risking erasure, discrimination, abuse, and violence.

Our message, “Pride of Cascadia, Pride of the Sound,” celebrates both the pride we feel in supporting the best club in Cascadia and the pride of our LGBTQ+ siblings to be themselves, help create space for others, and flourish in our football community.

Pride of the Sound is a loud and proud subgroup of the ECS open to LGBTQ supporters and allies to foster and inclusive community within our supporter culture. Learn more about becoming a member of Pride of the Sound here

Photo Credit: Joe Towner [PNWMF]

Since the establishment of Seattle Sounders FC in the MLS era, ECS has blazed its own paths to support home and away, while observing and learning from those before us. And in recent years, ECS members near and far have experienced a wide array of treatment and behavior from front offices, opposing supporter groups, and other entities involved in matchday. During that time, if there’s one constant observation, it’s the consistency of inconsistency.

That’s not to say there aren’t quality efforts from front offices and the league. Our beloved Sounders have made strong efforts to keep away supporter treatment consistent – from tifo exemptions to ticket pricing – and continue to try and work with their compatriots to create similar experiences elsewhere.

All that said, we must address some of the language in the latest iteration of the MLS Fan Code of Conduct, as issued on March 1, 2019. To start, the league’s own statement says that it has a “transparent, consistent set of sanctions,” but we’ve also been given guidance that not all uses of “consistent” are created equal.

Most prominently, we want to call attention to the wickedly general use of the word “political,” as observed by the 107ist board of directors and many other supporters. After multiple members were ejected from BC Place during the 2017 Western Conference Semifinals for defending another member’s previously utilized personal two pole with the language “Anti-Fascist, Anti-Racist, Always Seattle”, Sounders FC ownership released a statement – signed by all four owners – enforcing our position that this was not a political statement. Beyond that, we were informed that this particular two-pole would be allowed in our sections afterward, and that the club did not believe that being anti-fascist or anti-racist was political. We stand by this understanding and see no reason why that position should change between 2017 and today.

The league, however, seems to disagree. Or at least appears comfortable with inconsistency and grey areas. In our pre-season meeting with the club where they gave us a preview of this document, we were told that the decision of what was political would be decided by individual clubs, and that each club would enforce that decision for their own home venues. Furthermore, we were told that behavior outside of the event would be subject to this code of conduct, another topic with a lot of possibility for significant variance and interpretation. And yet, the league has chosen to turn a blind eye towards known neo-nazis and fascists.

Our position is simple: Standing up for human rights is not political. Defending marginalized people is not a political issue. As an organization, the Emerald City Supporters has never endorsed political parties or candidates; that isn’t our purpose for being. What is part of our focus is the creation and protection of an atmosphere within the Sounders community that celebrates the diversity of our members, our team, and our city. Our strength is unity, and we will continue to stand opposed to those who would work to undo that foundation. We stand with those who support these core values.

ECS looks forward to responses from MLS and its member clubs and believes this is an opportunity to find a position that supporters, players, and ownership alike can align on.

We truly stand on the shoulders of a giant. For eight years, Sigi Schmid built our team, our expectations, and helped forge the club we are today. He taught us to strive to be the very best, that we go for every win, that we compete for every trophy, that we always go all in.

Who we are, because of you.

Thank you for your stewardship, Sigi. You are missed but will never be forgotten.

Photo Credit: Joe Towner (PNWMF) and Jill Peck