By MIKE GRAMAJO
Orlando City Soccer Club may not be in Major League Soccer just yet, but their march to a safer fan experience took another step on Monday.
In a letter issued to fans, club President Phil Rawlins announced the implementation of a fan advisory council and the suspension of 15 fans until December 2015.
The actions come in response to an incident at Al Lang Field earlier this month during a match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies that ended with four arrests and 16 fan ejections.
OCSC also indefinitely suspended its two largest supporter groups, The Ruckus and Iron Lion Firm, until the groups agree to a new MLS code of conduct. The punishment comes a week after Iron Lion members were thrown out of a July 12 home game for obscene chants and threatening front office members during halftime. The club then issued a statement regarding that incident.
“Four fans were ejected for continuous use of inappropriate and offensive language,” Rawlins said in a statement. “Each of these individuals has subsequently been banned from attending future OCSC matches – home and away – until December 2015.”
One thing that stood out from the letter was that the Iron Lions are no longer recognized as an Orlando City supporter group after talks between the club and the group collapsed following the July 12 incident. Meanwhile, The Ruckus’ suspension was lifted after meeting with club officials to discuss the ongoing problems.
The push for a safer fan environment at Orlando City games also introduced the fan advisory council, which aims to bring together supporter groups and regular season ticket holders to enhance the game day experience.
“As we look ahead to the remainder of 2014 and toward our Major League Soccer debut in 2015, the Fan Advisory Council will play an integral role in helping our Club continue to defy expectations,” Phil Rawlins continued in the letter. “They will represent a thorough cross-section of our fan base – from seating section to demographics – ensuring we have proper representation to help us test innovations, provide feedback and maintain a fluid dialogue to ensure we continue to provide the best possible experience each and every match.”
What do you think of this development? Do you think Orlando City is doing the right thing? Can you see fans losing interest in the club?
Share your thoughts below.