Sports

Tim Howard blasts MLS, Rapids after suspension

DENVER — Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard blasted his team and Major League Soccer on Friday, asking for heightened security in light of his verbal altercation with a fan that resulted in his three-game suspension.

Howard was suspended and fined an undisclosed amount last week for profane language toward a fan during a game against Sporting Kansas City and an altercation with a fan following the match, which Colorado lost 3-1.

The longtime U.S. national team star, who played with Manchester United and Everton in the English Premier League, tweeted a link to a Facebook post on Friday that began: "I want to begin by saying I am genuinely sorry for my behaviour 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."

However, Howard, continued, "after reviewing the incident in Kansas City, my league and my team chose to admonish me and suspend me for almost 10 per cent of the season, but they did not say a word about the fan's antagonistic behaviour or the negligent security."

Neither the Rapids nor MLS immediately responded to messages seeking reaction to Howard's post.

Howard said he regrets his reaction and understands the need to admonish him, but "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," Howard wrote. "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."

Howard said he doesn't know how the fan was allowed to get so close to him but "it was not the norm and not right."

He said he's not calling for censorship of fans or "security policing against passion," but "we all deserve a fan-friendly and safe environment."

Howard added that he actually enjoys "a bit of verbal jousting with fans" but doesn't want to be taunted for his race or for having Tourette Syndrome. Neither of those happened in this incident, he noted, but he said he is often taunted for those reasons.

"I want security to keep fans at enough of a distance that a physical confrontation is impossible," Howard concluded. "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."

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