The first edition of one of the top rivalries in MLS, nay, American sports! of 2022 is coming on Saturday, as LAFC head to the LA Galaxy to resume the El Trafico derby. And with that, a reminder to keep the passions fun and legal.
The clubs have come together to announce an enhanced security plan at the respective stadiums during rivalry matches to try and prevent fan violence.
After consulting with internal and external security experts and reviewing existing safety and security protocols, the LA Galaxy and LAFC have mutually agreed to an enhanced security plan for rivalry matches taking place at Dignity Health Sports Park and Banc of California Stadium, starting Saturday, April 9 when the LA Galaxy host LAFC. While the overall fan experience will not be impacted by these new measures, specific portions of both stadiums will have special protocols to ensure safety for all.
The security plan has been developed by both clubs in collaboration with MLS to optimize overall fan safety and experience. The plan features designated sections on the concourse for the safe division of supporter areas and includes seat relocation opportunities, specific stadium services for traveling supporters and rules regarding opposing team colors in supporter sections.
On top of that, players from both teams came together to shoot a PSA emphasizing the unity of the Los Angeles community even within a rivalry.
“We ask fans of both Clubs to set an example, respect each other and find common ground as passionate fans of the sport. Violence or any harassment among fans is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Let’s honor the game and continue to build this rivalry together,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein and LAFC Co-President & Chief Business Officer Larry Freedman in a joint statement.
“To the fans of LAFC and the LA Galaxy – Let’s show the world that this game is for everyone. We wear different colors, but we are all one community,” said LAFC captain Carlos Vela.
There’s a couple useful points of context here. First, just a month ago, a stadium riot in Querétaro, Mexico led to fans of Querétaro FC targeting and attacking visiting fans of Atlas FC. The carnage was brutal and shocking, and while officially there have been no confirmation of deaths, it sure looked like lethal violence was used, regardless of the official line. Regardless, the sight of families with children in attendance racing onto the pitch — the most exposed part of the stadium — to try and find refuge was horrible and terrifying amid the violence.
No one wants to see something like that in MLS, and certainly not in Los Angeles. I think that event served as a wake-up call to many to make proactive plans and not merely hope a riot never breaks out.
On top of that, we all know there have been isolated incidents of violence and vandalism between fans of LAFC and the Galaxy over the years, and even if it’s not yet been on the scale of the events in Querétaro, it makes everyone look bad by association. It’s not worth trying to tally up which side has done “worse” over time, because there have been problems on both sides. And everyone really just needs to chill, this is friggin’ football, after all.
So please, take the efforts to stamp out fan violence, particularly around El Trafico, to heart. Let’s keep the rivalry intact, but with a good nature to it and not the threat — or actions — of violence alongside.
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