Major League Soccer officials announced Tuesday that fans, such as Portland’s Timbers Army, can once again fly an anti-fascist symbol the league had previously banned.
MLS had prohibited the Iron Front symbol, categorizing it as a political sign connected to far-left antifa activists. The Iron Front was an anti-fascist group in Nazi Germany, and Timbers fans have flown its symbol for years. They recently displayed the image in response to the uptick in hate incidents in the city of Portland and across the country.
MLS's move to ban the symbol led to a silent protest and several Timbers Army fans being removed from a game for flying the Iron Front in defiance.
Now, MLS officials are saying the Iron Front symbol will be allowed for the rest of the season while the league reviews its code of conduct policy. According to an MLS statement, the league will work with fan groups and diversity experts on that policy review.
"As part of this decision to update the Fan Code of Conduct for 2020, MLS has suspended the prohibition on the Iron Front imagery at matches for the balance of the 2019 season and MLS Cup Playoffs while the working group conducts its analysis," MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said in a statement.
Fan groups acknowledged the league's statement as an "affirmation of its long-time opposition to racism, fascism, white supremacy, white nationalism and homophobia." The groups also said they would suspend further acts of protest, and instead work collaboratively with the league.
"We look forward to continuing the dialogue, moving away from direct action in the stands on this issue, and instead focusing our energy on making progress around the table," a statement from the leaders of supporter groups said.