On Friday night, a usually raucous Timbers Army was silent.
In protest of a recent Major League Soccer ban on flags and banners bearing an antifascist symbol, Portland and Seattle soccer fans decided to spend the first 33 minutes of the game in silence. The Timbers Army didn't lead cheers or songs, nor did they create a tifo—a massive banner the coalition of fans typically constructs for rival games.
The demonstration was a response to a May rule change in MLS's code of conduct that deemed the Iron Front symbol—a circle encompassing three arrows—overtly political.
The Iron Front symbol was an emblem of a WWII-era socialist, paramilitary organization that opposed the Nazi party. It was disbanded in 1933.
In an Aug. 19 statement, the Timbers Front office wrote that MLS "believes the Iron Front symbol is inherently political because it has been co-opted by antifa."
Fans and players both denounced the ban on Friday. In addition to Iron Front flags scattered throughout the crowd, Timbers defender Zarek Valentin and Thorns forward Christine Sinclair both entered the stadium in shirts bearing the symbol.
Cheers to everyone lending their voice to #AUnitedFront. 👊 pic.twitter.com/BYoCJjcALB— Timbers Army (@timbersarmy) August 26, 2019
We salute you, Z. 👊 #RCTID #AUnitedFront pic.twitter.com/TWGpFLXfIY— Timbers Army (@timbersarmy) August 24, 2019
Our Captain.— 🌟Peepaw Nash🌟 (@NashCapo) August 25, 2019
Christine Sinclair. pic.twitter.com/KQzOZoqtHf
At halftime, The Nation reported, players from the rival teams exchanged jerseys as a show of solidarity.
At the end of the game, Timbers fan Jeffrey Ball alleged in a tweet that the team's owner, Merritt Paulson, blamed the silent crowd for the team's 2-1 loss to Seattle.
"I yelled 'Merritt Fight for us!'" Ball tweeted. "He said, 'You can yell anti-fascism all you want but you fucked this team tonight!' I yelled, 'be a humanitarian.' There was more yelled but honestly couldn't hear everything."
I was one that he was yelling at and that is precisely what he yelled. I yelled “Merritt Fight for us!” He said “You can yell Anti-Fascism all you want but you fucked this team tonight!” I yelled “be a humanitarian”. There was more yelled but honestly couldn’t hear everything— Jeffrey Ball (@papez107) August 24, 2019
A spokesperson for the Timbers did not immediately respond to WW's request for comment.