While there was plenty of attention on Los Angeles Football Club and the LA Galaxy in their match on Thursday, which ended in a 2-2 draw on the field at Banc of California Stadium, clashes between rival supporters, attacks and vandalism marred the proceedings.
Prior to kickoff, video emerged of a pack of LAFC supporters who ganged up on a Galaxy supporter carrying a styrofoam cooler, and smashed into him, busting the cooler, before other LAFC supporters stepped in and held fellow fans back.
Here’s another video of the same incident from a different perspective.
Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reported six arrests and 14 ejections from Banc of California Stadium on Thursday, according to LAFC personnel. The team reportedly doubled security inside the stadium, including LAPD and CHP uniformed officers, and fights broke out at a rate considerably higher than other LAFC home games.
In addition, the away section in the stadium, where Galaxy fans were concentrated, featured seats physically ripped out, broken, and/or vandalized, with LAFC personnel determining a total of 78 seats were damaged.
In response to the black eye given by supporters who are too stupid to realize that it’s just a game and you can have a healthy rivalry without resorting to violence, LAFC president Tom Penn and The 3252 released a joint statement on the matter on Friday:
The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and The 3252 Independent Supporters Union are committed to a safe, positive, welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans at Banc of California Stadium. This is what our Club stands for as we continue to work to Unite the World’s City Through the World’s Game.
The passion and intensity that comes with rivalry matches around the world is now in Los Angeles and is something we embrace and celebrate. LAFC and The 3252 will not tolerate illegal acts of any kind affiliated with our Club or the visiting team’s supporters at Banc of California Stadium, including the organized destruction of property. That is not who we are, and this behavior has no place at our stadium and within our Club.
Any fans identified as participating in illegal behavior will be removed from the stadium and the Club will revoke their season membership. LAFC and its Supporters will continue to actively work together to enforce a zero-tolerance policy at Banc of California Stadium. Together, let’s win in the stands.
In addition, Galaxy executive Brendan Hannan addressed the incidents on his Twitter account on Friday and Saturday:
There were some incidents at last night's #LAFCvLA match at the Banc of California Stadium. The passion for the #LAGalaxy and #LAFC is evident throughout Los Angeles. We are working to identify all of the issues and find solutions. Our goal is to continue to make #soccer #fun.— brendan hannan (@brendanhannan) July 27, 2018
In instances of safety, security, fan violence and destruction of property it's not about assigning blame. It's about accountability, gathering information and finding solutions so that soccer can continue to grow and flourish in Los Angeles. #LAGalaxy #LAFCvLA— brendan hannan (@brendanhannan) July 28, 2018
On the plus side for LAFC, they already have experience in trying to stamp out non-inclusive behavior, working quickly to educate fans and stop the crowd from using a well-known homophobic chant after the team’s first-ever home game. For the most part, that effort was immediately successful and the chant is not a regular occurrence at LAFC games.
But it will take more work to not only stop violence and vandalism, but to coordinate with the Galaxy to set a tone that truly enforces zero tolerance. Fans should not be afraid to attend games at the opposing team’s stadium, period. Who cares if it is a common enough occurrence for local college football games or at Los Angeles Dodgers games? We know these habits didn’t form out of thin air, and the local legacy of fans fighting at sporting events here is likely more to blame than a perception that these supporters are aping the worst of hooligan or ultra culture abroad.
Regardless, while we all understand there are bad apples in every fanbase, I feel confident in saying that we don’t want LAFC to gain a reputation of having a fanbase prone to violence and other threatening behavior. We want the stadium to be a fortress on the field, but everyone deserves to be safe when attending a sporting event, even if they wear a rival’s colors.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!