After word got out about Tim Howard’s three-game suspension last night, a ton of information started coming out. First, it was that he was suspended because of the Sporting Kansas City fan’s video. Then, there was supposedly some security footage of Howard putting his hands on a fan in the tunnel after the game.
This morning, the MLS Players Union released a statement that sheds a new light on the situation:
While I still do not condone Howard’s actions, there are some potential security concerns here.
According to Sporting Kansas City’s A-Z Guide, “Any fan that shows signs of impairment and/or intoxication will be denied entrance to or will be removed from Children’s Mercy Park and subject to arrest.” From MLS Fan Code of Conduct, “fans conduct themselves in a lawful manner to avoid incidents in the stadium and in the parking lots.”
Was the fan that aggressively approached Tim at field level with alcohol in hand arrested?
Also from the A-Z Guide: “Fans that refuse to follow the direction of Children’s Mercy Park staff or fail to comply with the Sporting Club Code of Conduct may be subject to ejection without a refund of their event ticket and may lose future ticket privileges. Additionally, fans may be subject to legal prosecution.”
Again from the MLS Fan Code of Conduct, “Fans enjoy the soccer experience free from fighting, thrown objects, attempts to enter the playing field, political or inciting messages, and disorderly behavior, including foul, sexist, racial, obscene or abusive language or gestures.”
No team’s fans are perfect, but as much as we hold players responsible for their actions, fans need to be held responsible, too. And if the fans are going to “cross the line”, stadium security needs to step in.
UPDATE: Apparently the fan was in the Field Club level. Shouldn’t there be standards of behavior to have that kind of access?
SECOND UPDATE: Sporting Kansas City’s President, Jake Reid, was surprised by the union’s response, saying that “We put safety first and foremost at Children’s Mercy Park. If we ever felt at any time that safety was a concern, we would have changed a policy or an action a long time ago.
We’re one of five clubs that have a dedicated security team on staff full-time. That should tell you the level of seriousness we take with this stuff at the stadium.
Certainly language is always going to be a concern, and we flag that. We don’t feel it’s an issue at this point in our venue. It is something we work through if and when it does become a problem.”
THIRD UPDATE: Tim Howard released his own statement about the incident on Facebook: