When we first created American Outlaws back in 2007 the goal was to create events surrounding the U.S. national team for fans to find each other and enjoy their company. Over the years we’ve helped fans across the United States and the world join in hundreds and hundreds of events.
Our motto “Unite and Strengthen” was designed to offer a welcoming environment for fans of all types. And what started as a tight-knit group of supporters has grown to a family of over 32, 000 members and many thousands of other that join in our public events.
Last week, following our Night Before Party at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, several members of AO returned to the local chapter bar, and upon leaving that establishment, an unidentified male came up to one of our members forcibly grabbed her from behind and then ran off.
While we have no idea whether this person was a member or guest or even attending the AO after-party what it did spark was a conversation about American Outlaws’ role in ensuring our events, our chapter locations, and games are the safest place possible for our family.
From scenes in France of Russian hooligans attacking fans to full stadiums chanting offensive things we have always prided ourselves onour passionate positively when it came to our style of support. Even the disgusting act at Stanford and the reprehensible attacks on the gay night club in Orlando keep us up at night hoping and wishing AO is always a safe place for our family. Soccer is supposed to be the beautiful game and these acts and the actions on the night in San Jose are neither.
It has been over a year since we revamped our “Act Above” Code of Conduct and instituted our pro-active program called AO Watch which has AO leaders assisting people at events plus tools for reporting fan incidents. While never perfect the initiative has allowed us to spell out and enforce our beliefs against societies’ greatest ills of harassment, discrimination, racism, sexism, and homophobia to create the world’s most inclusive supporters group.
We still have work to do. Sexual assault, verbal or physical harassment of anyone is unconscionable. The safety of all our family is paramount. This is the way it has always been. This is the way it will continue to be.
Even one incident is too many. Which is why we chose to address this immediately. Every member deserves to feel safe at our events.
Openness, inclusion, safety, and positivity… that’s what we strive for. Never perfect; always working to better ourselves and our organization.
But, let us be clear, violence, sexual or otherwise, towards anyone, has no place in AO. We will strongly enforce our code of conduct and the privilege of being apart of AO is the least of the things we will take away if anyone is ever caught attacking members of our family and their guests.
For more information please visit our website www.theamericanoutlaws.com and click our “Act Above” link at the top of the page.
We ask that all of you to unite in helping us continue to evolve to better not just American Outlaws but all of soccer culture so we can truly represent the best version of ourselves in the U.S. and abroad.
Korey Donahoo, President
Justin Brunken, Vice President