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LAFC-Galaxy game marred by vandalism and altercations

LAFC-Galaxy game marred by vandalism and altercations
LAFC fans rally with their towels before a game against the Galaxy at the Banc of California Stadium on Thursday. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Six fans were arrested and 14 ejected from Banc of California Stadium during Thursday’s MLS soccer game between the Galaxy and the Los Angeles Football Club.

LAFC said it had doubled security at its stadium for the game, the second in the expansion team’s intracity rivalry with the Galaxy but first in its new Exposition Park home. Still, clashes between fans of the two teams began outside the venue about two hours before kickoff, with video posted to social media showing a group of men dressed in black and red LAFC jerseys physically attacking two people in white Galaxy jerseys.

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Supporters of both teams also clashed inside the stadium while uniformed officers from the LAPD and California Highway Patrol broke up fights as fans left the game. In addition, 78 seats in an upper-deck corner section reserved for Galaxy fans were either damaged or ripped out, LAFC said.

Club President Tom Penn and Josef Zacher, president of the 3252, the team’s supporters union, issued a joint statement Friday condemning the behavior.

“LAFC and the 3252 will not tolerate illegal acts of any kind affiliated with our club or the visiting team’s supporters at Banc of California Stadium, including the organized destruction of property,” the statement said.

The statement also said anyone found to have participated in “illegal behavior” will be removed from the stadium and their season-ticket membership will be revoked.

After LAFC’s home opener in April was spoiled by an anti-gay chant, the club and its supporters worked together to identify and expel fans using the slur.

“We’re totally aligned. We’re totally shoulder to shoulder,” Penn said. “We’re asking our club members to hold everyone accountable.”

A Major League Soccer spokeswoman said Friday the league was aware of Thursday’s violence, had viewed some of the videos and was discussing the matter with both teams. Fans also clashed when the teams met last March at StubHub Center in Carson, but the Galaxy said club policy prevented them from releasing information regarding arrests or ejections.

The fights and vandalism Thursday tarnished what was a dramatic match played before a sellout crowd, one that saw the Galaxy rally from a two-goal deficit to a 2-2 draw in the final eight minutes. Although, many fans left the stadium unaware any arrests or ejections.

“My experience was nothing but positive,” said Aaron Levinson, a longtime Galaxy fan who watched the game from the stadium’s Founders Club in a white Galaxy jersey. “People gave me a nod and a smile. One LAFC fan shook my hand and thanked me for coming.”

On Friday, Penn called for the focus to return to the game.

“I don’t want the handful of nut jobs and criminals to hijack the reality that this was an amazing sports experience,” he said.

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