The Major League Soccer Players Union said Saturday that it was “disappointed” with MLS’ handling of Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard’s suspension and that at Sporting Kansas City fans should be held to the same high standards.
The league Friday night banned the U.S. international and former MetroStars keeper for three games after an altercation with a fan after the Rapids’ 3-1 defeat at Sporting Kansas City Sunday. Howard also was slapped with an undisclosed fine for foul language directed toward a fan and for an altercation with a spectator.
The MLSPU claimed that fans at the game at Children’s Mercy Park had violated the MLS Fan Code of Conduct several times without any repercussions.
“We are disappointed with the league’s handling of the situation involving the Kansas City fans and Tim Howard,” the union said in a statement. “Following the incidents, which involved a verbal exchange with a fan, as well as an altercation after the game, Tim acknowledged his culpability and responsibility for his role. However, he is the only one involved to do so.
“Although the Players Union and Tim acknowledge that his conduct was inappropriate, there is further context that should not be lost.
“MLS has a detailed Fan Code of Conduct in place under which fans are expected to be respectful to each other and to players, and are prohibited from engaging in disorderly behavior, including obscene or abusive language.
“The fans involved repeatedly, routinely and openly violated that Code of Conduct, without any repercussions. It is thus not surprising that there was a reaction from the player.”
The MLSPU also questioned security at the match, calling it “wholly inadequate to protect players and fans.”
“As Tim was attempting to leave the field, a fan with alcohol in hand was able to come within two feet of him on field level and aggressively scream obscenities in his face,” the union said in its statement. “That is unacceptable behavior anywhere and is not something that players, or anyone, should be subjected to in their workplace.
“Tim takes responsibility for his actions, but MLS needs to do the same, and send a clear message that it is committed to creating a safe experience not only for its fans, but for its players too.”