Updated: May 22, 2019
Security officials asked fans to remove what was at first thought to be just an LGBT rainbow flag at a game between Real Salt Lake City and the Colorado Rapids in Denver, CO on May 11. This raised questions about political images at soccer matches.
The Real Salt Lake supporters group "The Riot" was not happy:
In response on Twitter, a fan asked about the (apparent) LGBT rainbow flag, "But what does it have to do with soccer?"
And he asked, importantly, about those who "just want to go watch a soccer game without thinking about politics for 90 minutes."
The Major League Soccer (MLS) Fan Code of Conduct (March 1, 2019) states that "Major League Soccer, its Clubs and its venues are committed to creating a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable soccer experience for all guests in and around our stadiums and facilities."
Note, this is for "all" guests. So even if some fans want politics mixed in with soccer, the fact that many fans do not want politics mixed in with soccer needs to be considered.
One of the prohibitions in the MLS Fan Code of Conduct is "Using (including on any sign or other visible representation) political, threatening, abusive, insulting, offensive language and/or gestures, which includes racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist or otherwise inappropriate language or behavior." This prohibition includes "political" "language" "on any sign or others visible representation," such as a political image on a flag.
This fan continues: "People on BOTH sides should be able to go to sporting events without seeing flags displaying beliefs."
As I explain in the 2019 report, "Let All Play: Yes to Soccer, No to Politics," teams and the governing bodies of soccer should "Give fans the opportunity to cheer for their teams, not take up sides in political fights" (page 10).
In the end, reported the Denver Post, the reason the officials gave for removing the LGBT rainbow flag was that it had Antifa symbols on it.
But this does not settle the matter. Even if it had been the LGBT rainbow flag alone, without Antifa symbols, still this is a political symbol. And this was a soccer match, not a politically rally. The venue officials are supposed to keep political symbols, all political symbols, out - and rightly so.
Yes to soccer. No to politics.