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Orlando City fans who threw debris face suspension of at least one year

Fans who threw debris on to the pitch during Orlando City’s 2-1 loss to rival Atlanta United Sunday face a one-year minimum suspension, according to club officials. 

After a no-call in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time, fans around the stadium — not just from the supporters’ section —  began littering the pitch with cups and other trash. 

Fans also threw debris at Atlanta United players after the Five Stripes scored. 

The club is working to identify the individuals who threw things, though a spokeswoman said it’s a “lengthy process.” 

Club officials confirmed more than a dozen fans were trespassed from the stadium by the Orlando Police Department. While the majority of them were trespassed for throwing trash on the field, some could have been for other “disruptive behaviors.” 

Those identified by the club throwing trash onto the pitch will not be turned over to OPD, according to club officials, though their suspensions from the stadium will be validated by the police. That means if the people identified by the club try to enter the stadium, they’ll be arrested for trespassing as part of the their suspension.

Club policy states fans will be hit with a minimum one-year suspension for throwing debris onto the field. 

On an individuals basis, it is possible to have suspensions reduced. There is an MLS Code of Conduct and club-recognized supporters groups have their own codes of conduct that have varying requirements for reinstatement in addition to guidelines adopted by Orlando City.

Right back Will Johnson, who protested the non-call when he hit the pitch in stoppage time against Atlanta, on Tuesday said the actions of the fans who threw things onto the pitch were “inexcusable.” 

“We can’t cross that line,” he said. “We want to stay classy as a fan base and as an organization. I think the club’s statement speaks for itself. It’s not something that we condone. As players, you’d hate to see somebody get hit by one of those projectiles and get hurt.

“At the end of the day, this is a sport we all love and we want to keep it as passionate and as energetic as possible, but there’s a fine line and I think we crossed it. We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Johnson referenced a 2013 incident where then-FC Dallas centerback George John was hit in the head with a beer bottle while celebrating a game-winning goal. The fan who threw the bottle was banned six days later, according to a statement released by the club. 

“It’s dangerous,” Johnson said. “It’s a projectile coming straight for you from a long distance. Again, I can’t emphasize enough, we as players hope our fans understand that that obviously can’t happen, especially not in our stadium.” 

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