Major League Soccer has been in a high-profile row in recent weeks due to the presence of the “Iron Front” symbol that has been used by some supporters' clubs and has loose ties to anti-fascist, or antifa, movement. The imagery, the league said, is political in nature and thereby subject to being banned from within stadiums. Fans and those in supporters' clubs have argued that the symbol is more generic in nature because it is against the idea of fascism, and is not linked to any particular antifa groups.
This week, MLS recanted its ban on the symbol and it said the “Iron Front” will be allowed back into the stadium. The decision reversed a leaguepolicy that forced fans in several cities to be kicked out of games for displaying the symbol. The president has talked about designating antifa groups as terrorist organizations. Fans who have displayed the symbol have argued that there is a difference between being anti-fascism and "antifa."
In response to the league’s ruling, one player, identified as a former member of the United States national team, hopes that conservative fans and in particular, those who support President Donald Trump will now counter with their own statements.
“I hope that people will now wear their MAGA gear to MLS games. I hope they fly Trump 2020 flags,” the player told conservative talk radio station KTTH in Seattle. “The antifa thugs have just fought, and won the freedom of political expression, without censorship or judgment. They must now honor that from all who wish to express this newly achieved freedom at MLS games. I will not be surprised when they show their true fascist agenda by pushing MLS to ban those they disagree with, from expressing their differing political beliefs.”
The issues with the “Iron Front” symbols are not the only political topic the league has recently wrestled with. MLS also targeted conservatives in recent weeks. In response, some fans around the league have staged walkouts or protests in response to MLS's original ban on "Iron Front" imagery. It is unclear, if conservative fans, and in particular Trump supporters, are extended similar leeway.
One noticeable incident in early September irked conservative fans. A member of the Real Salt Lake supporters club, Randolf Scott, was asked repeatedly to remove the Betsy Ross flag he was displaying at Rio Tinto Stadium during a match. Featuring 13 stars, the flag has been controversial since Colin Kaepernick declared its alleged racial undertones due to the presence of slavery when the flag was created. In folklore, it is often credited as being the first flag flown after the United States declared its independence during the American Revolution.
The season ticket holder complied with the request and put the flag away.