ORLANDO, Fla. — Fans of New York City Futbol Club have issued an open letter concerning Sunday’s game against Orlando City, saying they feared for their safety due to a lack of security.
It is a claim that Orlando City officials said was unfounded, as they went out of their way to ensure NYC FC fans had a positive experience at the first game in the team’s new stadium.
In the open letter from the visiting team’s fan club, NYC FC supporters said they experienced “unacceptable levels of abuse and harm in and around the stadium.”
Orlando City responded, saying NYC FC fans were escorted to the stadium, something home clubs rarely do, and that two security personnel and two police officers were assigned to their section in the stadium.
The Orlando City statement also said the club did not receive any reports of issues or complaints from NYC FC fans inside the stadium.
“All incidents that happened after the match occurred outside of Orlando City Stadium in downtown Orlando,” the statement said. “Our team feels we properly took care of visiting team supporters inside our stadium.”
As a Club, we are researching their claims and double-checking against the league-wide procedures we followed.
Every Club has a Supporter group liaison who takes care of home and away team needs because soccer fans around the world are known for their passion, loyalty and rowdiness. It is common to see them standing and chanting the entire game, which is why Orlando City Stadium has a fully standing-room only supporter section on the north end of the stadium. It is the only of its kind in North America.
For visiting supporters across Major League Soccer the following steps are taken to help everyone understand what to expect:
- For small numbers (20-40) we do not send a travel supporter liaison officer (TSLO). If the number goes over that we start to look into who is going to gauge potential issues that my come from the group. If the group is "high risk" we will send one or two TSLO's to accompany the RSC members traveling. If we hit 90 or more we will send one or two TSLO's regardless.
- Prior to each trip a visiting supporter call is held to ensure all parties understand ingress, what's allowed, security, seating, POC's and exiting recommendations. This is also the time supporters can ask questions.
- Home clubs rarely escort visiting supporter groups from a meeting point to the stadium and back to the original meeting point. But for NYCFC, we met them at the assigned gate. All along the way those fans got the visiting team treatment. We took that precaution to enhance the visiting supporters experience.
Two security personnel and two police officers were surrounding their section – This is not a common practice around any other sport who clearly have home and away supporters. Visiting team was on the furthest side of the stadium from our Club supporter section as well.
Lastly, we had no reported issues or complaints inside the stadium. All incidents that happened after the match occurred outside of Orlando City Stadium in downtown Orlando. Our team feels we properly took care of visiting team supporters inside our stadium.
Cox Media Group