(Photo provided by Crosscut Magazine by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire)
In a victory for the Cascadia Major League Soccer supporter groups, the Major League Soccer federation has rescinded a prohibition on the use of the anti-fascist Iron Front symbol as they work with fans to rewrite their code of conduct. The symbol was recently banned, with the league trying to claim that it violated it’s code of conduct because it was a ‘political statement’. Supporter groups have countered that being pro-human rights, as well as being tolerant and inclusive of all individuals, regardless of their race, religion or skin color, is hardly political.
Statement of the Independent Supporter Council:
The Independent Supporters COuncil and supporter groups for the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC acknowledge the League’s willingness ot discuss these complex issues, as well the League’s affirmation to racism, fascism, white supremacy, homophobia and whit enationalism. We appreciate Major League Soccer’s willingness to engage, listen, and learn. We look forward to continuing the dialogue , moving away from direct action in the stands on this issue, and instead focusing our energy on making preogress around the table.
The MLS president and deputy commisioner Mark Abbott also released his own press release declaring that:
“After Collaborative discussions with its fans, supporter groups, and clubs, Major League Soccer, the Independent Supporters Council, the 107 Independent Supporters Trust, Timbers Army, Emerald City Supporters, and Gorilla FC jointly announced the formation of a working group by MLS to review the League’s Code of Conduct to ensure clarity and consistency in advance of the 2020 season. This working group will include representatives fro the League office and club supporter groups and a cross-section of diversity and inclusion experts. As part ofthis decision to update the Fan Code of Conduct for 2020, MLS has suspended the prohibition on the Iron Front imagery at matches for the balance of the 2019 season and MLS Cup Playoffs while the working group conducts its analysis.”
The point of contention arose when supporters and members of the Timbers Army, Vancouver Southsiders, and Emerald City Supporters and Gorilla FC began displaying the Iron Front symbol at matches to visibly confront rising acts of violence by openly fascist and neo-nazi groups intimidating and harassing individuals and people of color outside of matches, and at other well known established supporter group hangouts. Previously, Supporter groups had met with MLS representatives in Las Vegas on thursday the 19th, but the toolks had proved inconclusive.
While the name ‘Iron Front’ sounds very fascist in of itself, the history of the symbol is very different. The three arrows, originally conceived for the Iron Front, became a well known social symbol used representing resistance to Nazism, Communism, and the reactionary conservativism around the 1932 election in Germany. Under Nazism, it was used by underground resistance fighters within Germany and later became an international anti-fascist symbol.