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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