The El Trafico rivalry has quickly become one of the best in MLS, and maybe even American sports overall. With the LA Galaxy and LAFC squaring off the past four years, we’ve already seen unforgettable moments on the field and...let’s be real, some unsavory incidents off the field, too.
In response, ahead of the first El Trafico meeting of 2022 between the teams, on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park, the clubs have come together to denounce violence in the rivalry and to announce a mutual plan to enhance security at the respective venues during rivalry matches to hopefully avoid violent flashpoints.
“We ask fans of both Clubs to set an example, respect each other and find common ground as passionate fans of the sport. Violence or any harassment among fans is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Let’s honor the game and continue to build this rivalry together,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein and LAFC Co-President & Chief Business Officer Larry Freedman in a joint statement.
According to the release announcing the joint initiative:
After consulting with internal and external security experts and reviewing existing safety and security protocols, the LA Galaxy and LAFC have mutually agreed to an enhanced security plan for rivalry matches taking place at Dignity Health Sports Park and Banc of California Stadium, starting Saturday, April 9 when the LA Galaxy host LAFC. While the overall fan experience will not be impacted by these new measures, specific portions of both stadiums will have special protocols to ensure safety for all.
The security plan has been developed by both clubs in collaboration with MLS to optimize overall fan safety and experience. The plan features designated sections on the concourse for the safe division of supporter areas and includes seat relocation opportunities, specific stadium services for travelling supporters and rules regarding opposing team colors in supporter sections.
There are two important points of context here. First, just a month ago there was a horrific scene in Querétaro, Mexico, as fans of home side Querétaro FC attacked fans of Atlas FC during a match. While officially there are no deaths reported from it, graphic footage from the stadium make those official reports specious at best, and even if there weren’t deaths, the amount of carnage on display was truly disgusting, as fans who were not attacked ran across the stadium, including families with children, and tried to find refuge in a very dangerous and unthinkable scenario.
Needless to say, if MLS had any game with physical violence anything along the lines of what happened in Querétaro, it would prove disastrous in multiple ways. Given the passions surrounding El Trafico for some, it’s worth taking proactive steps to prevent such a riot from occurring in this rivalry.
In addition, while we haven’t seen a stadium riot (thank goodness, hope we never do) there have been incidents of violence surrounding El Trafico in the past, both inside and outside stadiums. It’s not worth recounting tit-for-tat or scoring points to see which side comes out better or worse, since a contingent on both sides of the rivalry have stepped over the line, no doubt.
The bottom line? A rivalry is cool, if you can keep it friendly. Let’s make sure we all do our part to do that now and moving forward in El Trafico.
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