Orlando City punishes supporters’ groups after ugly ruckus vs. Rowdies

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By FRANCO PANIZO

Orlando City has brought down the hammer on its supporters groups.

Three days after some fans involved in the club’s top two supporters groups caused some chaos in a friendly against in-state rivals the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Orlando City issued temporary bans on Wednesday to counter the incidents that damaged the image of the MLS-bound franchise.

Orlando City published an open letter to its fanbase on their website that stated a list of punishments and also said the club would not tolerate the type of behavior that was seen when the Lions beat the Rowdies 3-2 in the second leg of the I-4 Derby in St. Petersburg, Fla. this past Sunday.

Among the sanctions were The Ruckus and Iron Lion Firm – Orlando City’s premier supporters’ groups – being suspended indefinitely pending their agreement to a new Fan Code of Conduct that abides by MLS Supporters Group guidelines and privileges such as using drums, flags and large banners also being temporarily banned.

Additionally, a copy of the new Fan Code of Conduct will be distributed to all fans and the four supporters who were arrested at the match are suspended from all future Orlando City gams pending the outcome of legal proceedings.

Orlando City’s decision to crack down on fans comes after sixteen fans were ejected from the win over the NASL’s Rowdies for setting off smoke bombs. Some of them were also accused of other types or disorderly conduct, including trying to make their way into Tampa’s supporters’ groups’ sections and striking a police offer with a flag pole.

The Lions are set to enter MLS in 2015.

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What do you think of these punishments? Think they are appropriate? Did they need to be harsher?

Share your thoughts below.

 

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63 Responses to Orlando City punishes supporters’ groups after ugly ruckus vs. Rowdies

  1. Matt C says:

    Love it. As a Rowdies fan i witnessed it first-hand. Bunch of wanna-be hooligans who’d watched Green Street Hooligans to many times..and read Amongst Thugs too many times.

    Check the newspaper article. Four arrests. link to tampabay.com

    I read about the passion and supporters groups out in the NW and i wonder if their behavior escalates (or drops) to the levels offered by Orlando City.

    • Ian says:

      The PNW fans just love soccer. They don’t seem to have the odd fixation with hooliganism up there, like some in San Jose and Orlando do, evidently.

      American soccer fandom has been fortunate to mostly avoid the crazy hooliganism England saw in the 70s and 80s, and that still persists in Easter Europe and South America. Let’s keep it that way.

      • Ronster says:

        Amen, Ian! I was in London in the mid-80’s during the peak of hooliganism when in separate incidents a fan would be stabbed to death for wearing an opposing kit in the wrong part of town. Also the ‘monkey’ chants when John Barnes took the field away from Anfield and the ‘sssss’ Anti-Semetic chants directed at Spurs. We don’t want to sink to that level and ruin the growth of the beautiful game here in the US!

    • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US says:

      Matt C.

      NO.
      The Sounders will host the Timbers on Sunday, if there is an incident, it will be small and looked down on.

      I watch those game in Europe, with cops lining the area between the home and away fans. What the heck is wrong with them ? Are the simple ?

      I root for the Sounders, very much so. We don’t get distracted with fighting and other wasting of lives.

      • Big Red says:

        Yes, there are fights that happen. I have seen them first hand many times over the last 25 years. However, there just aren’t a ton of them and none seem to get really out of hand I did see a big skirmish a couple years ago in Portland that was nasty with a lot of people going to jail but nothing significant in Seattle. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen though. With alcohol, you never know and people in Seattle and Portland can get crazy beligerant sometimes. All you have to youtube is Seattle and Seahawk or Thunderbird fight to know what I mean.

        • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US says:

          Well I guess there is then. sorry.

          I have been going to 31 years also, but never seen one. Read about one in the papers.

    • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US says:

      Wait someone down below says it was only smoke bombs ?
      Is that true ?

      The Sounder’s owner is on record of saying he wants smoke bombs and flares.

    • OwnGoal says:

      Timbers Army never does crap like this. I bring my daughter to games and sit in the Army.

      We like soccer, not fighting. But the PNW is way mellow compared to Florida. So that could be your issue

      • Horsewhistle says:

        You won’t find fans high on bath salts, drinking FourLoco out of styrofoam cups at any PAC NW game. Culturally, Florida is another country. No offense to Bath salts or FourLoco.

  2. Sam U El says:

    This is a good thing as the club prepare to enter MLS. Better to lay down the law sooner rather than later.

    • Josh D says:

      I see it as a good thing that’s there’s passion. Misplaced, yes, but passion is what drives team cultures. If they can alter it a bit then Orlando will be a fun place to travel for an away match!

  3. Gassman says:

    Interesting you mentioned “among the thugs”. I read that about five years ago and I remember thinking to myself “there’s no way authorities in the US would put up with this stuff”. Here is an example. I applaud it myself. I have no intention of going to a game where this kind of behavior is happening.

  4. I LOVE it. It’s called a rivalry and passion for the sport. For more info see: The Rest of the World.

    • DCUPedro says:

      No, it really isn’t anything to be proud of.

      The EPL only became successful because they worked hard in their early years in the early 90’s to eliminate any traces o that from the game in England.

      If you romanticize it as something we should emulate in the U.S., you will set the game back decades here.

      • Gassman says:

        This is it. If you want a top league that draws fans, $ and players you cannot have this stuff. Especially in the US. There is too much competition for the market. Anything like this can derail growth.

    • Matt C says:

      Frank. nothing wrong with rivalry and passion. Smoke bombs, flags, cheering, singing, drums..all OK. Drunk’n idiots climbing the outfield fence (Rowdies play in baseball field) pregame and throwing smoke bombs, starting fights, pushing past police officers..etc. is NOT passion.

      Rowdies organization gave OC supporters separate parking for tailgating, separate entrance, specific section (50 yard line i might add) and they still had to try to “infiltrate” the Rowdie’s supporters section…. For what purpose other than to start something.

      That ain’t passion. That’s making an ass of yourself.

    • Ian says:

      You love that four OCSC fans were arrested? Haha, how sad and lame.

      • Matt C says:

        Always thought i had passion for the sport. Guess not since i haven’t been arrested or asked to leave a stadium.

        • dcpohl says:

          I almost got kicked out of Soldier Field once, but it was only for launching a cup of water at the Hondurans after they dropped one of our players with a D-cell battery from the stands. Plus they were throwing crap all over the place themselves. What did it matter that I did it?

          • CeezNYRB says:

            You sunk down to their level so you’re no better than they are.

            I know better than to launch things onto the field. I was raised better than that. It’s called being civil. By all means endorse passion for the sport, not passion for pugilistic hooliganism and criminality.

          • Ian says:

            Rise above, man. There are so many (completely true) cliches about turning the other cheek. Ignore turds and call on security to do their jobs.

    • Ronster says:

      How sad it is to condone and excuse this behavior. Franks, I don’t think you’ve ever been to the rest of world. I’ve been to Ibrox to see the Old Firm matches and the nasty religious and ethnic chants between the Scots Protestants and Northern Irish Catholics. I was in London during the tragedy at Heysel and the Liverpool fans blamed the Juventus fans for not fighting back (blame it on the victims!). Fans stabbed to death in London wearing the wrong kit in the wrong parts of town. I went to a West Ham game in East London when they played Spurs and their fans made ‘hissing’ noises emulating the gas chambers. More recently, Spur fans were attacked by Anti-Semitic gangs during Championship League play. John Barnes and Dwight Yorke having to hear ‘Monkey’ chants. Azteca fans throwing rocks, beer bottle and urine bags at American Outlaws during US-Mexico matches. If you love, condone and espouse this alleged ‘rivalry and passion’ you should strongly consider emigrating to these countries and denounce your American citizenship. Hooliganism is not American and its not true Futbol, Fussbol, Football, Soccer! Franks Red Hot – read the book ‘How Soccer Explains the World’.

      • Scott says:

        Amen. Go to other parts of the world if you want monkey chants and banana throwing. No place for it here.

    • Tru Dat says:

      Catholics v. Protestants in Scotland, Fascists v. anti-Fascists in Italy, or the historic neighborhood divides in English towns, are issues to be resolved. That those conflicts played out on a soccer field is unfortunate.

      What exactly is the blood feud between Orlando and Tampa? The “Hooters Hot Wing Injustive of 1988″?

      Your derivative, manufactued, poseur, rivaly is all the gravity of your Adobe Acrobat logo and market researched colors. The League and teams were put together for business and entertainment purposes. That someone would go to jail for it is laughable.

      • KungFuSoccer says:

        That is grossly insensitive of you. Do you realize how many hot wings were lost in 1988?

        • Chris says:

          if it wasn’t for that guy who dipped his wing into ranch instead of blue cheese it would have never happened. Oh the humanity!

  5. Tru Dat says:

    Supporters groups: what Eurosnobs!

  6. Frank says:

    Good. I’m tired of idiots ruining the game for everyone else and claiming it’s passion and love for the sport. As a Dynamo Dresden fan, I’m tired to hear about them way too often for “fans” using smoke bombs, rioting, vandanlizing, throwing objects on the field, etc. I wish German authorities would take a closer look at how things can be and are handled here in the US and start cracking down on violent and dangerous behavior. Stadium bans are obviously not sufficient.

  7. cformusic says:

    maybe they went too far overboard..but i’d be lying if i said a part of me isn’t excited by such a passionate fan base entering the league

    • Scott says:

      Passion is great, but this is thuggery. Look to the northwest for passion. Look to Italy and others for racism and thuggery. Don’t ever confuse the two. The former builds, while the latter divides and destroys.

  8. Reid says:

    Can someone let us know what happened, I read 2 articles and it said smoke bombs. Is that really the only thing that happened?
    Went across the border to a Montreal v TFC match, the smoke bombs went off for 2-3 minutes, it was exciting, and fun to watch the supporters get a little crazy and no one got hurt.
    For the past few years I’ve found the champions league boring and having the fans get into it (Dortmund TIFO and the intensity of the Turkish supporters, including smoke bombs) gives the competition an edge that it needs.
    Flares I can see being dangerous… but smoke bombs?

    • Matt C says:

      Reid, check the article i posted. Here it is again.

      link to tampabay.com

      Pretty accurate. I think the trouble started when two OC “supporters” thought it would be cool to wear green and gold (Rowdies) and sit amongst Ralph’s Mob (Rowdies supporter group). Then at a certain point they thought it was a good idea to light smoke bombs Ralph’s Mob section and reveal themselves as OC fans… I don’t sit in that section, but i think they were “asked to leave” that section..and put up resistance to fans AND Security AND cops. Then a few idiots from the OC section on the other side of the stadium tried to rush the Ralphs section…cops and security in the way.

      Sadly/Ironically, the Rowdies organization anticipated some of the “passion,” but welcomed OC with open arms. Special tail gate section. Special seating away from Ralph’s Mob. Special and escorted entrance. Even some ticket deals. Alas.

      If you want more “i was there details” you could probably search facebook. Not Rowdies FB page, rather Tampa Bay Soccer. There’s some photos..etc…

      • Matt C says:

        Damn, forgot to add. I think there was drinking involved.

        Legalize pot and it would have just been one big group hug.

    • alex says:

      Orlando folks crossed the stadium to the Tampa Bay folks and lit smoke bombs. The whole thing was pretty silly, but my 4 year old now knows how not to act.

    • scb says:

      From what I’ve read in various places online, the flares were kind of a side issue and not the central reason people got arrested.

      Seems the real trouble got started when an Orlando fan snuck into the Rowdies’ supporter section (wearing a green shirt to disguise his purple OCSC shirt underneath–yes, this is as lame as it sounds) and then lit a flare and started chanting for Orlando City. Some of the Rowdies fans pushed him out of the section, a bunch of other Orlando fans came rushing over, and a little bit of hell broke loose. For what it’s worth, at least two of the arrests were for resisting law enforcement. Pretty dumb.

    • Billy Bowlegs says:

      It wasn’t smoke bombs. I spoke to security afterwards and they confirmed smoke bombs are allowed. The arrests were for fighting, trying to fight and resting restraint. The ejections of the 16 fans (who were not arrested) were for lighting a flare or some kind of incendiary, which is NOT permitted at Al Lang field.

      I grew up watching the old Rowdies in the 70s and wanted to share that with my kids. I had 4 girls with me at the game, seated between the two supporters group. When the OCS hooligans tried to rush, it was scary. Watching grown men get arrested fighting with police 10 yards away from us scared the hell out my 10 year old daughter. She doesn’t want to go back.

      So no, it was not shared fault on both sides and no, it was not the just smoke bombs. The quickest way to kill growth of soccer in this country is to allow this kind of crap to happen. Thank you Orlando City management for trying to squash this.

  9. Hand Solo says:

    It’s a shame that a bunch of crybaby spoilsports have such a big problem with super-fans enjoying a bit of fun on their own dime!

    • whoop-whoop says:

      LoL Yeah, c’mon man… a guy wants to club a cop with a flagpole for a few laughs, who are ya’ll to judge?

      Mostly this sounds like minor stuff, but for a growing club, it is smart to set a tone early. For some… most, it is passion for team and sport, but… for some pitiful, opportunist misfits, it’s an outlet to vent their frustration at their pathetic lives. There is an element of mob mentality that is scary. Brains shrink and balls grow larger in the anonymity and the safety of a huge crowd and people do things they would never in a million years have the kiwis to do on their own. Hurl an insult, a racial slur, rock, torch a car, grope a girl, smash and grab a Toshiba.

    • Carl says:

      The problem isn’t that they are “having fun on their own dime” it is that they are ruining the game and making it unpleasant for other fans who are trying to “have fun on their own dime”.

      Fighting and violence obviously have no place. Smoke bombs make it hard to breathe and impossible to watch the game. If you and your friends want to set off smoke bombs and flares then go home and do it there, real fans want to watch the game, not do silly garbage like that.

  10. T.Coolguy says:

    Don’t think this is a problem NYC FC has to deal with…

  11. Jordan says:

    Also, this rivalry goes beyond just soccer. UCF/USF is a rivalry in college football as well and they feature major trash talking and a fight here and there. Even aside from sports there’s probably a rivalry between the two cities. Not that either is good, just saying this isn’t just an Orlando (or Tampa) soccer problem by itself.

  12. swift says:

    Just calm down everybody it was a little fight after a rivalry game. Lets not start labeling the group as hooligans. The passion of support groups is solely what is group the MLS. As far as the PNW I’ve personally be spit on and called a beaner in Portland and Seattle by there fans not even supporters. All I’m saying is every stadium has a couple knuckle heads that drink too much, let stop all pretending like you have never done something stupid when you were drunk.

    • Billy Bowlegs says:

      I was at the game. You are wrong. It was more than that. It was larger, more organized , and scarier than a fight after a rivalry game. And if not addressed WILL grow into something a lot worse.

      These guys came with the sole purpose of fighting – that’s hooliganism, even if only 4 were arrested. And by the way, only four were arrested, but at least 20 or 30 were trying to come over and were turned back by quick action from security.

      • swift says:

        You know better then I do but from what the film shows the fan that got beat up was asking for trouble (doesn’t make it ok) by going to the opposing side and trying to incite a fight by waving the flag and blatantly disrespecting the fans. Trying doing that in Philly @ and Eagles game or in NY at a Yankees game. This stuff happens at all stadiums but it’s the people that compare these situation to 80′ hooliganism that are really the problem. Without supporters groups MLS has NO chance. The numbers speak for themselves and it’s not the family’s making the teams $$.

  13. Fredo says:

    Tsk Tsk

  14. Maxi says:

    Orlando City giving San Jose a run for worst fans in the league?

  15. NJRB says:

    They were freaking smoke bombs, people… Grow a pair.

    I’d rather sit with passionate fans than some squid in a 8 year old Real Madrid Jersey, yapping on his cell phone asking how many points they just scored….

  16. Siberian says:

    Incidents will happen and the rowdy party atmosphere of the supporters groups is part of the appeal of soccer, but I don’t think American sports culture would tolerate much bad behavior. I went to a Spartak Moscow vs Barcelona match in Moscow a couple years ago and I had never seen such a police presence in my life. I was patted down seven different times before I reached my seat. And after the match we weren’t allowed to leave our section for 45 minutes. Nothing happened at this match, but there were incidents in the news constantly. Russian fans are absolutely terrible. Will be a story for 2018.

  17. kathy says:

    Glad they did the punishment. The OCPS Ruckus is a Great suporter group unfortunately a few bad seeds can ruin it for all. I know supporters that dId not go because of the concern..all supporter groups need to follow the code of conduct

  18. Mikey K says:

    I know beer bottles were being thrown.

  19. Keith says:

    Smoke bombs are just stupid. Evidence that you’re not there for the game, just the party. It obscures everyone’s view in the section just so you can be all “wild and crazy” … go watch at a bar (not that any would have you) you drunk a-hole.

  20. Chris says:

    Being from the UK, I’ve seen the aftermath from West Ham v Chelsea games, or West Ham v Millwall games. It only takes a few to ruin something. In the 80’s hooliganism was out of control, and while the fighting has reduced, and stopped between some clubs. There are still pockets of supporters where they are now organised enough to arrange a fight away from the stadiums. However, these are not fans. They may support the club but often the motivation was never more than to have the fight. This is one of the reasons why in some areas supports do not attend as many games. I’ve seen the pictures, watched the videos and while I don’t think all members of the supporters groups are moving towards a hooligan nature, I would say there a a number, those who were arrested are. Once the code of conduct is released I hope they keep to it and start turning the bad bunch away. Get OCSC and the Rowdies to being family friendly clubs, with a respect for each other’s game but desire to win.

  21. andrew says:

    A lot of you are completely wrong. I was on the bus from Orlando to Tampa, and I witnessed everything first hand; Yea, the members sitting in the Rowdies section was dumb (but also not illegal, it is General admission after all), but all he did was light a smoke bomb and chant..hardly enough to warrant getting battered like he did (check out the video footage of Tampa fans punching Chuck, and him not once swinging back – but yea, he was a terrible hooligan, right?) One of our members arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct DOES NOT EVEN CONSUME ALCOHOL. JAred is a very peaceful and rational guy, who not only does not imbibe, but also is not the kind of dude to resist arrest, as police said he did. However, when the police began arresting people he did ask what was going on, then was placed under arrest by the officer he asked.

    No one down here cares how it’s done in the PNW, and we will not look to your SG’s or your standards as a model. You are thousands of miles away from us, and aside from being united under a veil of Nationalism, I’m sure our cultural differences are many.

    An interesting side note is that the letter posted to SG’s on OCSC’s mains page is framed by ads to sell season tickets with the pictures of our Firm on them. The billboards across town bear our images, the ads in the local print use our pictures, and we are portrayed as bad guys. Meanwhile the team itself can post twitter messages calling for drinking, chanting and invading Tampa, but when people get passionate it is suddenly time to drop the hammer.

    Sure, we were not entirely innocent of wrong doing, but neither was Tampa, and it doesn’t require the input of people that only go off of the biased reportings of media that doesn’t care about footie anyways.

    Two of our fans cause a frenzy by invading another section and waving a flag…meanwhile last year 2 Rowdies fans were arrested in Orlando for fighting EACH OTHER in their own section, and no one say anything. Where were the news reports about violence then?

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