Let me begin this story by saying I am writing strictly for myself. I do not represent the thoughts of SBNation or any of it's affiliated sites. I am writing this as a member of the Garden State Supporters, which is the support group located in section 133. Garden State Supporters has planned trips to travel with the team to games in Washington D.C., New England, Toronto, and Philadelphia. We've even had members fly out to Rio Tinto this season for the Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake. As I have relocated to Austin, Texas, I will be traveling to both Pizza Hut Park and Houston for away games. So to say that GSS is willing to support this team in across the country is an understatement.
This past weekend the Red Bulls Traveled to the PPL Park and members of ESC and GSS tagged along. The Philadelphia Union front office was kind enough to give the RB support groups their own section at the stadium and provided a police escort to ensure that supporters were able to get to and from the stadium safely. While some may define it as overkill (K9 units, Police on horseback...etc) it is a good thing that traveling supporter safety was taken into consideration. There have been some questions regarding if the busses were in fact searched while the game was being played, but until this is confirmed, it is just hearsay.
The game was rowdy as most NY/PA sports rivalries tend to be. The fans from both sides were signing at each other and having a good time, even though there was a police helicopter flying above the stadium. Both sides were yelling "You Suck Asshole!" whenever there was a goal kick, and the general atmosphere was comparable to Devils/Flyers and Giants/Eagles games.
At some point during the game, two of my close friends were removed for profanity because they flipped off the SOB during a heated portion of the match. It seems like while "Asshole" is acceptable, the middle finger is not. There was also an incident where a Red Bull fan threw a bottle onto the field, he was immediately arrested and escorted out of the stadium. While this fan was in custody, another of my close friends was arrested for the same bottle being thrown, even though the actual culprit was in police custody.
Today, the Red Bulls announced that my three fans were effectively banned from Red Bull Arena. It wasn't clear if it was for the remainder of the season or indefinitely, but there was outrage amongst my friends in Garden State Supporters. Many made their feelings known on the Red Bulls official Facebook page as the banned members of our group have been longtime season ticket holders, who invest their own money to make the banners and flags you see in the South Ward. They were fans prior to the signings of Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez and never miss games, even traveling as far as Pennsylvania every Saturday to see the team they love play at the Cathedral that is Red Bull Arena.
I asked the Red Bulls representative that runs their Facebook page to email me as I wanted to give both sides of the story. Unfortunately, that did not happen. They did make an official statement though regarding this situation. As found on the Facebook page
2 fans were recently ejected from RBA for starting 2 separate physical altercations following the KC match leading to the hospitalization of 1 fan. They appealed the ban & while it was being considered these same 2 people were ejected from PPL. 1 for throwing a bottle onto the field & 1 for being verbally abusive & inciting an altercation. Considering the totality of these incidents we decided to uphold the bans.
Unfortunately, some details were left out by this member of the front office, namely that the altercation at the KC match was directly related to a Red Bull ticket representative providing the KC fans seats in the South Ward. The issue that lead to the hospitalization of the KC fan was because said fan assaulted two women and was heard saying he has "no problem hitting a female". Unfortunately, the RBA security staff was no where to be found and the the individual was rightfully dealt with. This man also was a self-admitted Nazi who Seig Heil saluted during the match. The Red Bull Front office used this incident to justify the bannings of team supporters.
I hope the Facebook post is not the official statement and hold out hope that the team releases something more professional regarding this situation. If they do, I will edit this post to include their side of the story.
NY Red Bulls/Metrostars Season Ticket holder since 1996.