MLS lifts ban on anti-fascist symbol after outcry from supporters' groups

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The Iron Front logo will now be allowed to be displayed after a number of fans have been banned for its use in the 2019 season thus far

Major League Soccer has announced that it will lift a ban on an anti-fascist symbol that had become a point of conflict between the league and many supporters' groups.

The league did not allow banners at games that displayed the Iron Front symbol, saying that it violated the MLS ban on political displays included in its fan code of conduct. 

The Iron Front symbol first appeared in the 1930s and was used by an anti-Nazi paramilitary group.

The symbol has been displayed prominently at Portland Timbers home games this season, leading several fans to be ejected from Providence Park.

Earlier this month, many Seattle Sounders fans walked out of a match in protest after several people were ejected for displaying the Iron Front symbol. 

The symbol has since been displayed at several other stadiums across the league, leading to a meeting on Tuesday between executives from Major League Soccer and leaders of the Independent Supporters Council and supporters' groups for the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders.

Following that meeting, the league came to the decision to lift the ban on the Iron Front symbol after announcing a new working group to revamp the league's fan code of conduct for next season. 

"After collaborative discussions with its fans, supporter groups, and clubs, Major League Soccer, the Independent Supporters Council, the 107 Independent Supporters Trust / Timbers Army, Emerald City Supporters, and Gorilla FC jointly announce the formation of a working group by MLS to review the league's Fan Code of Conduct to ensure clarity and consistency in advance of the 2020 MLS season,” MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott said in a statement. 

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"As part of this decision to update the Fan Code of Conduct for 2020, MLS has suspended the prohibition on the Iron Front imagery at matches for the balance of the 2019 season and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs while the working group conducts its analysis."

The Independent Supporters Council said they were happy with the decision in a statement of their own. 

"We appreciate Major League Soccer's willingness to engage, listen, and learn. We look forward to continuing the dialogue, moving away from direct action in the stands on this issue, and instead focusing our energy on making progress around the table," the statement read. 

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