by Prost Amerika owner, Steve Clare
A row has erupted in Cascadia over a tweet from Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson’s account.
The Portland Timbers owner had, quite bafflingly, been arguing with Seattle fans about ticket prices for away games on Sunday morning when he tweeted a message which accused members of the Sounders Supporters Group, the Emerald City Supporters (ECS) of having a learning disability.
Offending people on his twitter account has been a regular feature of Paulson’s behaviour, and more often than not, his own fans have been on the receiving end of his tongue. He has called Timbers fans ‘idiots’ and ‘morons’ in the past.
However this time his target were Sounders fans and his reference to a ‘learning disability’ sparked off a firestorm.
One Sounders fan and ECS member Liz Seymour took personal offence and and wrote an open letter to Paulson, outlining her own personal difficulties with dyslexia.
It was a very moving letter and in terms of the sheer courage it took to write, it was reminiscent of the Ian Joy article on this site outlining his battles with depression. We applaud her bravery and openness and hope it provides some measure of support to others.
With Ms Seymour’s permission, we have printed it below in full.
Many Seattle fans online are echoing Ms Seymour’s call and demanding an apology. Some also believe Paulson’s reference may be in violation of the MLS “Don’t Cross the Line” campaign.
Prost Amerika is in full agreement with them.
Paulson’s tweet was in poor taste and went to an area where no owner, GM or club official should go. This site has always expected a higher standard of behaviour of those in positions of responsibility and has no wish to turn this affair into a tit-for-tat between Portland and Seattle supporters, who should be equally offended by the tweet.
When someone in a position of responsibility oversteps the mark, an apology is due. We demanded an apology from Sounders FC in 2010 when they accused Timbers fans of being ‘racist’ on their club website.
That slur on soundersfc.com took two days to come down and shamefully for the Seattle club, no apology has ever been tendered to Portland fans. Furthermore those responsible both for disseminating the slur and posting it kept their jobs. More nauseatingly, it only actually came down once the finger of suspicion for starting it pointed to a top Seahawks executive.
It was even reported to us that Paulson at the time told his own fans he demanded the dismissal for one of those responsible.
Paulson now needs to live up to the standards of decency he expects from others and apologize himself. It should not be a ‘I’m sorry you were offended’ non apology either.
That the slur against his own supporters remains out there is Seattle’s problem, and in no way should he or anyone connected with the Timbers organization use it as a pretext to not show remorse and humility.
The irresponsibility of those in power in Cascadia has been an issue before. We were the first to run the story that the Whitecaps had taken their fans’ allocation of tickets and handed it to a corporate sponsor travel agency.
In October 2012, Sounders season ticket Katlin Moore wrote about her dismay at the actions of CenturyLink groundstaff who irresponsibly routed visiting Portland fans into streets full of Seattle fans, even though the police had cleared a safe pathway back to their buses at the other side of the stadium.
She also noted her own personal fear when Portland mascot Timber Joey decided the away section would be a good place to wave his chainsaw. Her core point was that owners and employees of both clubs have a duty not to poison the well of supporter culture.
Anyone who would try and take Paulson’s tweet and use it merely to lambaste the Portland Timbers organization, and ignore those he has really hurt, indeed does a disservice to those he has really insulted; those with learning disabilities. Those tempted to take that path should think twice and recall their own FO’s history of provocation including some episodes that have never been made fully public.
None of that should though be allowed to distract from the next step in this story. Merritt Paulson should apologize in full.
He should apologize to Liz Seymour, and – yes – he should also apologize to the Emerald City Supporters and he should finally apologize to all those afflicted with disabilities.
Finally he should accept whatever punishment the league throws at him with dignity.