Third Rail Letter Criticizes Orlando City on Security

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by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

The Third Rail, New York City FC’s official supporters group, will send a letter to the Orlando City club and Major League Soccer criticizing the team for lax security that the supporters group said put traveling NYCFC supporters in danger.

The letter, obtained by Empire of Soccer, makes no direct reference to the postgame incident that resulted in the arrests of three New Yorkers. It does criticize Orlando City for failing to provide adequate protection for NYCFC supporters as they were leaving the team’s new stadium and walking down Church Street. The letter alleges that Orlando City fans were given tickets in the NYCFC away section, were allowed to enter the section to direct abuse at NYCFC fans requiring one member of NYC’s front office to remove Orlando City supporters.

In a follow-up interview, a spokesman for The Third Rail would not confirm or deny whether the three were members of the group. Instead, the group said it was issuing the letter on behalf of all NYCFC supporters who traveled to Orlando. The spokesman said while the group does not condone violence, the incidents that happened after the match were a result of the inadequate measures put in place that put the fans in danger.

The Third Rail said that some fans are now vowing to not travel again for any away matches because of security concerns. The supporters group charged that Orlando City led the away supporters through a fan zone held outside the stadium and through lines of Orlando City fans to enter the stadium putting the two groups in contact with each other. Once inside the stadium, the Third Rail said only two security officers were placed in the section and no row of buffer seats was used to separate their section from the rest of the fans. That, they said, led to contact between both sets of fans and the use of homophobic slurs and threats of violence levied toward the NYCFC traveling supporters.

The Third Rail is “demanding” both clubs provide an explanation  why the protocols put in place at the Orlando City Stadium put its members in danger. It is also “demanding” NYCFC provide assurances that traveling supporters are protected in the the future. It also asks for Orlando City to implement “meaningful reforms” to ensure the safety of traveling supporters for the future.

Felix Vazquez, one of the three New Yorkers arrested, was arraigned yesterday on a charge of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer in the first-degree, resisting an officer with violence in the third-degree, resisting an officer without violence and disorderly conduct. Vazquez could face more than 35 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

NYCFC said it is conducting an internal investigation of Sunday’s events while Orlando City moved to press charges on the three individuals arrested. MLS has yet to return EoS’ requests for comments. NYCFC will play at Orlando City on May 21. The letter is posted below.
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