Saturday, September 17th, was a monumental occasion for the San Diego Wave. For it was the day that they not only moved into their new home, the Snapdragon Stadium. They also managed to have a housewarming party with 32,000 fans, as they broke the NWSL’s attendance record for a regular-season game. And best of all, they managed to defeat their I-5 rivals, Angel City FC, by a score of 1-0. It was also one of the rare instances of a San Diego sports team getting the better of a Los Angeles-based one, which made the evening all the more special.
Unfortunately, the night was marred by an incident of alleged racist violence. Martín Macías Jr. traveled to the game to support the Wave’s opponents, Angel City. Macías Jr. was allegedly harassed by a woman who told him to “go back to his own country” and who crossed two rows to harass him. His partner, Natasha Khanna Dang, also corroborated this and said that the woman objected to them not standing for the anthem and told them to either “stand” or to “go back to your f-cking country”.
Macías Jr. filed a report with the stadium’s security. The security team then worked with the Wave to investigate the ordeal. Nine days after the incident had taken place, the team revealed the findings of their investigation.
As per a statement from the club themselves:
On Saturday, September 17th, at Snapdragon Stadium, a Wave FC fan reportedly directed a racial slur and physical action towards two visiting Angel City FC fans. The club investigated the incident with the support of Snapdragon Stadium, the NWSL and Angel City FC.
Follow-up interviews were conducted with witnesses to the incident. Although witnesses did not corroborate the use of offensive racial language, they supported the report of threatening and physical behavior at the game.
The fan was issued a warning by security during halftime; however, the behavior continued and escalated at the end of the match. The behavior of the Wave FC fan violated the Club Code of Conduct which prohibits “Behavior that is illegal, disruptive, threatening, or violent in nature, including verbal, physical or virtual harassment of match officials, player, staff, or other patrons.” As a result, the club has issued a lifetime ban of Wave FC matches and community events to the individual involved.
The Wave has also emphasized that the fan was issued a lifetime ban over “threatening and physical behavior” and not for any of the alleged racist abuse. The reasons why are that the latter allegations were not corroborated by the other witnesses in the stands, while the former allegations were.* The club has also given out a number that guests can text if they have any security concerns (619-393-5705).
Though the Wave did take swift action, questions have and will be asked about the security details at the Snapdragon. There have been numerous stories about the supposedly lax security at the stadium, including the staff’s failure to prevent fans from rushing their star forward, Alex Morgan.
It’s stories like this, along with the fact the fan who abused Macías Jr. was only given a warning at halftime for their behavior, that have led to raised eyebrows and questions about how secure the venue is. In response to this, the team has reportedly said that there will be increased security on the field, including in the north end, where the pitch invasions had taken place.
The Wave are working with the stadium’s staff to try to prevent events like this from happening again in their new home. The team has shown a commitment to their ‘Visionario diverse’ but will have to reinforce it by implementing preventative measures to decrease the likeliness of seeing repeat incidents like this. One of the ways they can do so is through educating both the fans and the staff about this type of behavior. They can also do so by continuing to foster an inclusive environment. Having a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards violent conduct and bigotry by issuing bans are also first steps in the right direction.
*Author’s note: It should be noted that just because other people didn’t hear it doesn’t mean that the racist abuse did not happen. There is evidence to corroborate what happened to Macías Jr., despite the statements from the other witnesses.
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