In May, the Portland Timbers soccer team announced that it was banning fans from flying flags showing an antifascist symbol.
The ban is part of a new Major League Soccer code of conduct. And the Timbers' decision to ban the Iron Front symbol—a circle encompassing three arrows—drew outrage from fans and the Timbers Army's elected leadership group, the 107ist, who say the symbol isn't political but rather a mark of resistance to fascist beliefs.
Tonight, the Timbers Army and Seattle's Emerald City Supporters plan to protest the Iron Front ban by not cheering for the first 33 minutes of a game between the two teams at Providence Park.
In a statement, the team's fans said they are "acting in solidarity in protest of MLS's inconsistent policies and its ban on displaying the Iron Front image on banners and flags, as well as promoting a shared goal of ensuring that anti-fascist and anti-racist stances are formally recognized as being non-political."
"The Timbers Army will not display their traditional tifo, and neither side will engage in organized chants, songs, choreography, flag-waving, or playing of drums or trumpets, remaining silent until the end of the 33rd minute to commemorate 1933, the year that the Iron Front was disbanded in Nazi Germany," the statement continued.
In an August 19 statement defending its decision, the Timbers Front office wrote that fans can display banners that denounce fascism and can wear clothing and pins with the Iron Front symbol, but cannot fly banners.
"The Timbers 100% oppose fascism and steadfastly stand against violence," the statement read. "More so, we have a responsibility to promote safety for all our guests and to promote inclusion in Providence Park. We have received much feedback from those uncomfortable with antifa symbols being displayed at our games and strong support from many of our members for the league's updated policy."
The Timbers Army and Emerald City Supporters said tonight's protest is a demand for the MLS to rescind its Iron Front flag ban, remove the word "political" from its fan code of conduct and to "work with international experts on human rights to craft language in the fan code of conduct that reflects and supports radical inclusion and anti-discrimination."