The bullhorn was loud and proud during the first half in the supporters section Saturday night as Arizona United faced San Antonio FC at the Peoria Sports Complex.
Then it was put away, and the fans sitting in the supporters section became a little more quiet in the second half after they were approached by members of the Peoria Sports Complex security staff during the 1-0 win.
Security staff said the bullhorn became too loud and that jokes the supporters were making were too sensitive to a few in the crowd.
Supporters were also told during Saturday’s match that the team and the league had told them to quiet down.
Thursday, Arizona United SC minority owner David Rappaport called on members of the supporters group to “not sit on your hands as supporters,” and that “keeping fans quiet is counter-productive to winning.”
“This situation has hit a boil,” Rappaport said on a conference call with supporters, saying that the team has no vested interest in keeping the fans quiet.
Rappaport said that the club has a 13-point code of conduct, but that code of conduct is worded generally, and could be viewed differently when applied to baseball as opposed to soccer. Also, nowhere in the code of conduct does it say that bullhorns are not allowed at the PSC.
Despite the code, Rappaport says that while it does need to be followed, PSC staff needs to be educated on the type of fan a soccer fan is.
“The PSC staff is looking at the code of conduct through baseball glasses,” Rappaport said.
Rappaport is trying to get to the bottom of this issue. He plans on visiting with PSC staff to educate them on who soccer fans are and their passion for the game, as well as trying to deal with the sensitivity of handling situations on-site. Rappaport has also spoken to the United Soccer League front office to get clarification on matters.
One of the things Rappaport discussed on the call was thinking about the creation of a supporter’s trust, one that would have direct involvement with the team.
“I want to take this incident and have it serve as a catalyst to create the supporter’s trust,” Rappaport said. “It could be an elected group that serves as a mouthpiece for the supporter’s group and have a representative to the team.”
Rappaport apologized to the supporters for the club being in Peoria, calling it a “last-minute move that was a necessity.”
“Playing in Peoria has been difficult,” Rappaport said. “This incident serves as the final sign that we need to get a stadium of our own.
“Peoria is not a long-term solution.”