Orlando City condemns supporter's post about referee
Orlando City SC is condemning a social media post that targeted a Major League Soccer referee.
The Twitter post came from an account that purports to belong to the president of the Ruckus supporters' group. The Ruckus group's official Twitter account retweeted the post, which was deleted Tuesday morning.
''When you have a lot of free time on Summer vacation,'' the post said, adding the hashtag: UnleashThe Ruckus. It went on to include the referee's business address and phone number.
Lions fans were upset about red cards the referee issued in the team's 0-0 draw with the Chicago Fire last weekend. On Tuesday, the team formally appealed the red shown to defender Rafael Ramos in the 26th minute.
Orlando City SC issued a statement Tuesday morning that said it does not condone the actions of the supporters' group member. The team asked that the post be taken down.
''While the supporter groups are organizations independent from the club, we are working closely with them to avoid further promotion of this and ensuring they understand the serious implications this type of message can carry,'' the team said.
The Ruckus did not reply to an email seeking comment. The group is listed as a ''recognized supporter club'' on the team's official website, along with the group Iron Lion Firm.
The Professional Soccer Referees Association also released a statement.
''We strongly condemn these types of actions and are determined to protect our members from the potential abuse this exposes them to. While Supporters Groups have helped MLS grow as a game and as a League, actions like this are clearly unacceptable and pose a very real threat to Referee safety,'' the statement said. ''We would expect that Orlando City SC, MLS and the Professional Referee Organization will take quick action to investigate and remedy this situation in order to ensure a safe workplace environment for the Referees as well as the players, coaches and others involved in Major League Soccer.''
Supporters' groups are common across MLS, and often have close ties to the clubs they cheer for. The groups typically organize chants and songs, hold community events and coordinate large fan-driven displays, such as banners, that are known as tifos.
This type of targeting of referees and officials is not isolated. Police in Omaha, Nebraska, have looked into more than 800 voicemails left on the business and personal phones of college basketball referee John Higgins from fans disappointed by calls against Kentucky during the NCAA Tournament.
Seven of the messages were threatening in nature and have been referred to the jurisdictions where the calls originated.