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City Football Group and NYCFC Demand Fair and Ethical Treatment of Fans

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To Whom It May Concern:

Greetings. My name is Rox Fontaine. I am the President of The Third Rail, a supporters club for New York City Football Club (NYCFC). The Third Rail has over 1600 members which include lifelong soccer aficionados and families new to the sport. We pride ourselves on creating and having an inclusive experience for all irrespective of nationality, race, religion or other orientation.

During the home game against Columbus Crew on August 29th, a fellow supporter was tasered by the New York Police Department (NYPD). We believe the use of the taser was not necessary and indicative of the way we are treated by stadium personnel.

I was on the concourse at the exit of the aisle where the supporter was being escorted out of the stadium. He was escorted by four (4) NYPD officers, two in front, two behind, with three (3) Securitas employees in tow. He tripped while being escorted as there were so many people surrounding him and the aisle is thin. I was at the top of the staircase and near enough to attempt to help him. I reached over and grabbed him under his arms to help him up. As I was trying to lift him an NYPD officer burst through yelling “taser, taser!,” and pushed me out of the way. He immediately placed the taser directly on the supporter’s chest and fired. The supporter was on his back after tripping and was not a threat in any manner. He was not punching, kicking, biting or showing any other physical aggression.

These actions are indicative of the posture held by Securitas and adopted by the NYPD. At the beginning of each match we are met with indignation and disdain. Where we were previously able to have conversations with Securitas, we are now met with scowls and dismissals. Specific supporters, such as Los Templados, are targeted despite not having any connection to events cited by Securitas. We are supporters; not criminals. We are enthusiastic about having a club in our city and only desire to show our support in ways that you, this city and Major League Soccer promote endlessly.

Moreover, our efforts to conform to rules of the Stadium and its personnel are largely ignored. We have helped curtail the smoke bombs in recent games (2 out of 3 smoke free since I became President of The Third Rail), we have abated the throwing of beer and other projectiles, and spend time and resources reminding our members of stadium rules prior to each match. During the match, we have executive board members, captains, and lay-members reminding people of the rules and attempting to diffuse situations before Securitas or NYPD need to be involved. And we have been increasingly successful, despite the convenient narratives painting us as hoodlums.

Many times, NYCFC personnel have expressed concerns regarding the treatment of supporters and the ultra-restrictive nature of Yankee Stadium and associated personnel. So now we implore you to stand with us and condemn the treatment of your supporters as criminals. We need your support in starting a productive conversation and running dialog with Securitas and NYPD concerning stadium rules and how to cultivate a healthy relationship of mutual benefit. One that allows us to continue to grow the atmosphere you promote but remains amiable to the desires of the Stadium and safe for everyone involved. More importantly, an atmosphere that does not treat us an occupying entity to be “dealt” with. Additionally, we seek better trained stadium staff and ethical treatment from Securitas and NYPD.

We pack the stadium for NYCFC. We travel for NYCFC. We set sales and attendance records for NYCFC. We stand for you always. Now stand for us.

We are supporters. We are not criminals.

We are NYCFC.

Sincerely,

Rox Fontaine
President
Third Rail SC

---------Below are President Rox Fontaine's Original Thoughts-------------


To CFG and NYCFC,

My name is Rox Fontaine. I am President of the Third Rail supporters group. I am writing to you today with a very heavy heart. At our last home game versus the Columbus Crew, near the final moments of the game, there was a situation that ended up seeing a supporter tasered in his chest by NYPD. Of course you’ll want to know all of the details of how that happened and I’m sure your staff will get you some sort of answer. 

What I am telling you with a clear head and conscience is that your staff and the NYPD were wrong! 

You see, we are out in full force every home game and many of the away games holding up our end of the deal. We cheer our hearts out, jump and sing, spend countless hours discussing you and bouncing ideas about how to be the best we can for you and countless more dollars supporting this club that we love so much. Did you see the final vote totals when we lit the Empire State Building up in Blue? This is what we assumed you expected of us. We were verbally bludgeoned to no end about how fortunate we were to have CFG as a parent organization and told grand tales of how amazing our experience would be under your guidance.

Given what I’ve experienced to this point, and quite a fine one was put on this past Saturday, I have to disagree with that sentiment. You have not given us much in the way of reciprocation for the energy we have given to this club. Our team is marginal at best, we’re 0-3 versus our New Jersey rivals, we lost on PKs to the 2nd division team here, I can’t not mention the Lampard situation and we don’t have any news about a soccer specific stadium among a list of other things. Instead, you have entered into a deal with an organization that does not understand or care for the beautiful game and thus doesn’t understand or care for us as fans. You have put a product on the pitch that looks good on paper but doesn’t translate to wins. You have left us stranded in a baseball stadium that seemingly hates us even though we can put 30,000 people in there on a Thursday night, set an MLS sales record that eclipsed the Yankees’ opening day by a long shot and bring an energy to this park that you’d be lucky to get only close to watching the Yankees at any point in the season. 

We are the best thing this club has going for it. If you don’t believe that, then ask the players if they agree. Jump the Hudson and ask those guys in New Jersey how they wish they had support like us. We deserve better and we demand better. We are not unreasonable people. We know that there are some unruly people at times and we are always working to self police and reduce those occurrences. The reality is that we don’t have any more egregious offenses than NHL, NFL, NBA or MLB. 

We are in our first season and we’re fired up about this club and the possibilities that lie ahead. We demand assurance that we are valued beyond our ticket revenue. We demand properly trained stadium staff. We demand proper and ethical treatment from NYPD. Without those things this relationship is irreparably damaged. 

You should be extremely concerned with the precedent Yankee Stadium, it’s employees and NYPD set on Saturday.



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