After Tim Howard was slapped with a controversial three-match ban last week, the Colorado Rapids goalkeeper is speaking out.
In a statement released Friday, Howard conceded, “I am at fault and certainly not a victim in this incident” but added that he felt “compelled to elaborate” after the responses he’s seen to the controversy.
Howard earned a three-match ban for “inappropriate fan interactions” that the league said included yelling profanities at fans and an “altercation” with a fan. While video of the first incident was circulated and showed Howard respond to fans heckling him, reports later said the second incident included Howard grabbing a fan’s arm in the tunnel after the Rapids loss to Sporting Kansas City.
After reviewing the incident in Kansas City, my league and my team chose to admonish me and suspend me for almost 10% of the season, but they did not say a word about the fan’s antagonistic behavior or the negligent security. While I regret my reaction and understand the need to take action on their part, I am surprised and concerned that the full context of the incident wasn’t considered and responsibility wasn’t shared.
We all want passionate fans but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. It is not ok for an apparently drunk fan to get inches away from an athlete’s face and yell obscenities at them. While I should have controlled my reaction, I want to make it clear that I have never been put into a situation like that until Kansas City. I’m not a security expert, so don’t know the details of how a fan could get so close, but it was not the norm and not right.
MLS has not shared details of what happened, but the MLS Players Union alleged that a fan with alcohol in-hand was able to get physically close to Howard and scream obscenities in his face. The union called the league’s security inadequate and slammed MLS for suspending Howard without reprimanding the fans.
Howard’s tone was not as harsh as the union’s but his sentiment was largely the same.
“While re-stating one more time my own fault in this matter, I urge MLS, Sporting Kansas City, the Colorado Rapids and sports institutions in general to review fan-athlete interactions – both what is permitted and how that is supervised,” Howard wrote.
The league did not respond to a request for comment regarding the MLS Players Union allegations.