The Chairman of the Independent Supporter's Association/Section 8 Chicago has issued a statement regarding last week's Fire "editorial" and fan safety. Below is the statement in it's entirety:
"The past few years have seen steady positive growth in the relationship between Fire supporters, ownership, management, and security. The implementation of the club charter has been a central point in that growth, and fan safety has doubtlessly improved as a result, along with an expanded season ticket base and other concerns.
That the Chicago Fire Soccer Club willingly gave themselves the stigma of an unsafe experience through publication of the editorial piece posted on Wednesday, August 21 is particularly saddening considering the years of the lives of several of us in S8C leadership roles have dedicated to that very issue.
Had an editorial been published that addressed, in a honest and constructive manner, (or even a meandering and unfocused manner) the public safety issues that emerged during the 2010 Superliga match vs. UNAM Pumas, I would have considered Andrew Hauptman to be a responsible and forward-thinking leader, and if such editorial was penned by some new guy six months on the job, he would be immediately recognized as a great hire and a bold communicator of the critical issues. At that match, dozens of Fire and Pumas fans fought in the stands with wooden poles and projectiles, unchecked and abandoned by security for nearly 8 minutes.
No editorial was published following that incident. In fact, there was no official public communication from the club.
What did happen immediately after that event was ISA volunteers fully committed themselves to ensuring that nothing like that would ever happen again at Toyota Park. Club officials collaborated in this effort, though their work was behind the scenes and not in the full view of the public and the MLS community nationwide. Using the framework outlined in the then-newly ratified Club Charter (www.cf97.com), the ISA and our partners committed ourselves to the values of mutual respect and personal integrity to work through one of the most challenging issues any sports club can face. I firmly believe that our Charter came to life in those difficult meetings. The positive and constructive relationships which were formed in Charter development were further strengthened and realized in the aftermath of the Pumas incident. The lessons learned serve as the foundation of the manner of the way the Independent Supporters Association approaches difficult situations and maintains a commitment to safety issues.
I will confess that commitment has taken its toll on this volunteer at times, but I am extremely proud of our collective accomplishments in this area. We are miles away from where we were just a few short years ago. The participants in the Harlem End and Sector Latino deserve high praise for their growth and maturity. Monterrey Security has been top notch in the areas of the Park most prone to safety issues and conflicts.
Recently, the exhibition match with Club America was one of the smoothest, happiest such matches we've ever had, thanks to the planning, communication, and execution of game day operations by the front office staff, Monterrey Security, and the Independent Supporters’ Association. As I watched the match and spoke to the many fans of both teams that day, I did pause a moment to reflect on what I was seeing, that fun and relaxed evening was a clear demonstration of how far the ISA and our partners have come.
Public safety is a priority of the fan Association for the Club. We do give our hearts and put our own personal safety on the line for it. It is part of who we are, at home and on the road.
The club’s owner should be proud of us. Maybe he is. I could not tell from Mr Lobring's editorial.
We look forward to continued collaboration and success with the club on the issue of fan safety, as well as any and all topics important to fans, supporters, and employees of the club.
Section 8 Chicago
The Independent Supporters Association
for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club