As rain poured onto the field Sunday night, so did plastic bottles and cups. Orlando City fans showed their frustration with the referee in the final seconds of Orlando City’s 2-1 loss to visiting Atlanta United by littering all sides of the pitch.
Stadium security attempted to push the debris against the advertising boards as the final whistle blew.
Orlando City coach Jason Kreis wasn’t pleased with the actions of the fans.
“My message is pretty clear,” Kreis said. “We’ve said all along that the fans are part of our family, the crowd is part of our family.”
After saying players and coaches lost emotional control as well, Kreis said, “The crowd, we can’t be that. We can’t do that. We certainly want to be a very, very difficult place to play. We need to show the right amount of restraint in that moment to not be throwing on the field. We just can’t, can’t do that.”
— ProSoccerUSA.com (@ProSoccerUSAcom) May 14, 2018
Players made available to the media after the match refused to comment on the fans throwing debris onto the field – both midfielder Uri Rosell and winger Justin Meram said the club would handle that issue.
The club released a statement shortly after Kreis’ postgame press conference.
“Orlando City SC does not support or condone the actions taken by fans at Orlando City Stadium during Sunday’s match against Atlanta United,” read a statement issued postgame by Orlando City. “Fans are strictly prohibited from throwing debris or objects onto the field. The Club is using available resources to identify offenders, who will be penalized for their behavior in accordance with Major League Soccer and Orlando City Stadium regulations.
“Orlando City SC takes great pride in the passion of its supporters and how they make Orlando City Stadium the most difficult venue to play at in MLS, but the safety of fans, players, officials and staff members is our top priority.”
While the end-of-game reaction was stadium-wide, a couple fans in the supporters section tossed what appeared to be liquid and plastic cups onto the field earlier in the night as well.
That first incident came after Ezequiel Barco put the Five Stripes up 2-0 in the 31st minute. Most of the objects landed harmlessly behind the goal, but one cup bounced onto the field of play and landed near the feet of celebrating Atlanta players. During halftime, police officers walked over to speak with fans in that section and at least one fan left the area.
Thanks for the shower 👌 pic.twitter.com/buDjhoALo4
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) May 13, 2018
Throwing objects onto the field is against MLS’ code of conduct, which states, “MLS fans have a right to expect an environment where … Fans enjoy the soccer experience free from fighting, thrown objects, attempts to enter the playing field, political or inciting messages, and disorderly behavior, including foul, sexist, racial, obscene or abusive language or gestures.”
Failure to abide by the code of conduct is subject to sanctions, though fans throwing things at opposing teams is not uncommon.
Orlando City CEO Alex Leitao also issued a statement via Twitter, saying, “What happened was unacceptable, we will not tolerate this type of behavior, bad calls will happen, frustration with not playing our best as well, but NOTHING justify (sic) that attitude from part of our fans. We will work hard to make sure this never happens again.”
What happened was unacceptable, we will not tolerate this type of behavior, bad calls will happens, frustration with not playing our best as well, but NOTHING justify that attitude from part of our fans. We will work hard to make sure this will never happens again. https://t.co/ddgfx9zh6F
— Alex Leitao (@alexleitao) May 14, 2018