A Utah couple that brought a Betsy Ross flag to a Real Salt Lake soccer game was told by stadium staff that if they didn’t take the flag down, they would be ejected from the game.
Randolf and Diana Scott are season-ticket holders and avid soccer fans. Randolf famously wears a mohawk painted like an American flag to games along with an American flag, but when his old flag fell apart, Diana bought him a Betsy Ross flag.
She said she had noted the controversy over former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest in July against Nike promoting a July 4th-themed sneaker using the Betsy Ross flag on one of the company’s shoes. She said, “It just kind of bothered me that [Nike was] going to take it away.” Seeing the flag at a store, she bought it. She said, “It’s a great flag, and I love it.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in July, “After images of the shoe were posted online, Mr. Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, reached out to company officials saying that he and others felt the Betsy Ross flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery, the people said.”
In early August, Randolf started bring the flag to games, prompting complaints on social media, as Fox13 reported.
Last weekend Randolf brought the flag again, triggering a visit from stadium staff. Diana told Fox13, “They kept telling us if he wasn’t going to take it down, we were going to be rejected from the game. “ The Scotts initially refused to take the flag down, noting the plethora of other flags in the stadium. But they relented after another staff member warned them again. Randolf said, “He asked me—he’s like, ‘So what’s the purpose of the flag?’ I was like, ‘Well ’cause, we love America.'”
Team Chief Business Officer Andy Carroll released a statement to Fox13 that stated the flag had “been adopted as a symbol for hate groups,” concluding, “Any controversial flags or other similar banners or signs with symbols of hatred, divisiveness and/or intolerance whether intentional or otherwise will not be permitted in our stadiums. Period.”
The Scotts were not upset with the team banning the flag, but they were definitely concerned about some social media comments that suggested violence against Randolf. He said, “When people see me or Diana with this flag, I hope they can understand that it’s about the freedoms we have here in America. The legacy that America has.”
Carroll’s complete message read:
At Real Salt Lake it is our mission to unify our community through soccer and we promote inclusion, diversity and acceptance. It is important that everyone in the community not only feel welcome at our stadiums, but appreciated, respected and valued. Rio Tinto Stadium is reflective of that on match day and we encourage a unifying and welcoming environment to all fans at all of our RSL and Utah Royals FC matches. To be permitted to bring a flag into any of our stadiums is a privilege. Recently, and very controversially as well as surprising to us, the Colonial flag has been adopted as a symbol for hate groups. Any controversial flags or other similar banners or signs with symbols of hatred, divisiveness and/or intolerance whether intentional or otherwise will not be permitted in our stadiums. Period.