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LAFC issue statement condemning homophobic chant, throwing debris onto field

Joint statement with The 3252 a repeat occurrence after trouble in stands.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Los Angeles FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club crashed out of the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs on Thursday night, but issues in the stands overshadowed even the losing performance for the Banc of California Stadium home side.

Two separate issues took place, beginning in the first half. Spectators in the North End, where The 3252 supporters union sit, repeatedly throwing debris onto the field below, including directly at Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, to the point that the game was temporarily halted by referee Mark Geiger to try and get a hold on the game and allow everyone to cool off.

It worked, until second-half stoppage time, when spectators on the opposite end resumed throwing debris onto the field once more, before being warned by the stadium PA.

The 3252 did tweet out a warning to spectators to stop throwing items onto the field towards the end of the game:

The second issue on the night was that spectators used a homophobic chant on goal kicks, one that was present in the first game at The Banc, back in April, before swift condemnation and threats of “zero tolerance” by the club and The 3252 essentially quashed the chant for the rest of the season.

Until Thursday.

In response, LAFC and The 3252 issued a new joint statement on the crowd trouble on Friday afternoon:

The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and The 3252 Independent Supporters Union will not tolerate the offensive goal kick chant at Banc of California Stadium. We are disappointed and upset that it resurfaced last night at our match and understand we have work to do.

The chant has no place in our City or Stadium and does not represent who we are as a Club. It is our priority to work together to develop new processes and procedures to eliminate this chant from our Stadium in 2019.

LAFC and The 3252 are committed to creating an inclusive, welcoming and safe experience at Banc of California Stadium for all fans. Any fans identified as participating in this offensive chanting or other prohibited acts, will be removed from the stadium and permanently banned.

We are proud of the passionate community we have built in Los Angeles, and together we will win in the stands.

One part of this that may cause some eyebrows to be raised is how the statement seemed to focus on the chant but does not specifically denounce throwing items onto the field. I reached out to the club for clarification on this point, and a spokesperson responded that the clause “or other prohibited acts” in the statement encompasses that aspect of the problems on Thursday.

Pride Republic, an LAFC supporters group with an LGBT focus, also issued a statement on the matter, saying the team had been in contact with them on working to eradicate the chant and condemning both the chant and the garbage-throwing, while also calling on all parties, including MLS, to continue to work to end it around the league for good.

For now, we’ll have about four months to see how things go in the next LAFC home game, which should happen in MLS play in March. Most of us won’t see what work happens behind the scenes to rid the stands of the abhorrent conduct, but let’s all hope all parties pitch in to ensure LAFC’s fans get attention for their positive conduct, not for detrimental behavior.

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