Lots of questions have been raised over Tim Howard’s three-match suspension handed down by MLS a week ago. What exactly happened? Who was at fault? The USMNT veteran goalkeeper has taken to his Facebook page to release an official statement on the suspension and to issue an apology and his side of the events that happened in Kansas City:
I want to begin by saying I am genuinely sorry for my behavior in Kansas City and I want to apologize to my fans. I let myself get too worked up after being provoked and said some things I shouldn’t have. I am at fault and certainly not a victim in this incident.
With that being said, I feel compelled to elaborate a bit more based upon the responses of others. After reviewing the incident in Kansas City, my league and my team chose to admonish me and suspend me for almost 10% of the season, but they did not say a word about the fan’s antagonistic behavior or the negligent security. While I regret my reaction and understand the need to take action on their part, I am surprised and concerned that the full context of the incident wasn’t considered and responsibility wasn’t shared.
We all want passionate fans but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. It is not ok for an apparently drunk fan to get inches away from an athlete’s face and yell obscenities at them. While I should have controlled my reaction, I want to make it clear that I have never been put into a situation like that until Kansas City. I’m not a security expert, so don’t know the details of how a fan could get so close, but it was not the norm and not right.
I am not saying I want censorship of fans or security policing against passion, but we all deserve a fan-friendly and safe environment. I don’t mind – and even enjoy – a bit of verbal jousting with fans but I don’t want to be taunted for my race or my disability (Tourette Syndrome), which didn’t happen specifically in Kansas City but happens very often. I want security to keep fans at enough of a distance that a physical confrontation is impossible.
I am convinced that instructing athletes to “endure all, respond to none” is not the right answer. While re-stating one more time my own fault in this matter, I urge MLS, Sporting Kansas City, the Colorado Rapids and sports institutions in general to review fan-athlete interactions – both what is permitted and how that is supervised.
There you have it. Timmy is taking responsibility for his actions, but it’s clear that he believes he was provoked more than should be allowed at any sporting event. Whether you’re on his side or not, you have to appreciate his honesty in the description of that night.