It will be a little quieter at away games for the Vancouver Whitecaps for the foreseeable future.
The executive board of the Vancouver Southsiders, a club for supporters of the MLS team, has decided not to organize any bus trips across the border for the games in the United States while the travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump last week is in effect.
The club says recent developments in the United States present “very serious and distressing implications” for some of their members.
On Friday, Trump signed an executive order prohibiting U.S. entry for passport holders of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq, Iran, Sudan and four other countries, for 90 days. There is also a 120-day ban on entry for all refugees, and an indefinite ban for refugees from war-stricken Syria.
On its website, the Southsiders club says, “our supporter’s group was founded on the principles of inclusivity, acceptance and respect for all who sought to stand with us. Since our earliest days we have stood for equality, and we have spoken out against racism and bigotry. We have always strived to be the place where everyone feels welcome. We are the place where everyone belongs.”
President Peter Czimmermann told Global News they took three hours to deliberate and make the decision not to travel south of the border.
Czimmermann says only a couple of their members are directly affected, but there are quite a few who are uncertain about their ability to go. He says the games primarily affected include those taking place in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon.
“We try to stay away from politics as much as possible,” said Czimmermann. “I was not happy we had to have this discussion in the first place, but the reason we are doing this is because we are a group, we are almost a family and if one of us can’t go, then we are not going to organize a trip, where someone is excluded.”
After giving careful consideration to the club’s Charter and Code of Conduct, Czimmermann said they have unanimously agreed on the following:
Bus trips: The Executive Board shall not coordinate any bus trips to the US until such time that the current conditions at border crossings have changed. We cannot in good conscience be responsible for arranging or hosting events or experiences which potentially come at the exclusion of some of our members, no matter how few in number those affected might be.
Away tickets: The Executive Board recognizes it has an obligation to continue facilitating access to match tickets for away games. It is important that we protect the ticket allocation we fought very hard to gain control of. We are also mindful that many members booked flights and hotels prior to these recent developments. As such, away tickets will become available once kickoff times have been finalized.
Decide for yourself: We are not asking our members to participate in protests or boycotts. We are not telling our members to stay home. You can make those decisions for yourself.
Respect: We have just one request – if you travel to a Whitecaps game in the U.S. in the foreseeable future, we ask that you leave your Southsiders scarf at home as a sign of respect for members who cannot cross the border with the same ease and personal freedom as you do.
The club will continue monitoring the border situation and advise its members of any changes in the future.
“These are tumultuous and unpredictable times to say the least, which makes planning for the future extremely challenging,” the club said online. “Our ultimate goal is for all of us to move forward together in harmony and respect.”