Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake has banned people from waving the Betsy Ross flag at games, claiming that the Colonial-era flag design has been “adopted as a symbol for hate groups” and doesn’t fit with the team’s mission of inclusiveness.
The controversy started last month after season-ticket-holders Randolf and Diana Scott started bringing their giant Betsy Ross flag to games at Rio Tinto Stadium, which “ignited a firestorm” against the couple on social media, the local Fox News affiliate reported.
Last weekend, stadium staff asked the couple to put the flag away.
“They kept telling us if he wasn’t going to take it down, we were going to be rejected from the game,” Ms. Scott told the news station.
“He asked me — he’s like, ‘So what’s the purpose of the flag?'” Mr. Scott recalled. “I was like, ‘Well, ’cause, we love America.'”
The couple said they eventually put the flag away but are upset about the backlash they’ve faced online.
“When people see me or Diana with this flag, I hope they can understand that it’s about the freedoms we have here in America,” Mr. Scott said. “The legacy that America has.”
Andy Carroll, Real Salt Lake’s chief business officer, explained in a statement that the flag, including any banners or signs with “symbols of hatred,” would not be permitted at the stadium.
“At Real Salt Lake it is our mission to unify our community through soccer and we promote inclusion, diversity and acceptance,” Mr. Carroll said. “Recently, and very controversially as well as surprising to us, the Colonial flag has been adopted as a symbol for hate groups. Any controversial flags or other similar banners or signs with symbols of hatred, divisiveness and/or intolerance whether intentional or otherwise will not be permitted in our stadiums. Period.”
The news comes after Nike recently pulled a line of sneakers that featured the Betsy Ross flag after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick reportedly complained about its possible connections to slavery.
Related Story: Nike, the brand for ‘people who hate the American flag’
Ms. Scott said it was Nike’s decision that drove her to buy the flag when she saw it at the store one day.
“It just kind of bothered me that [Nike was] going to take it away,” she told the Fox affiliate. “It’s a great flag, and I love it.”
Here is the full statement from Real Salt Lake:
“At Real Salt Lake it is our mission to unify our community through soccer and we promote inclusion, diversity and acceptance. It is important that everyone in the community not only feel welcome at our stadiums, but appreciated, respected and valued. Rio Tinto Stadium is reflective of that on match day and we encourage a unifying and welcoming environment to all fans at all of our RSL and Utah Royals FC matches. To be permitted to bring a flag into any of our stadiums is a privilege. Recently, and very controversially as well as surprising to us, the Colonial flag has been adopted as a symbol for hate groups. Any controversial flags or other similar banners or signs with symbols of hatred, divisiveness and/or intolerance whether intentional or otherwise will not be permitted in our stadiums. Period.”
– Andy Carroll, Chief Business Officer, Real Salt Lake
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