Whitecaps fans skipping trips to the U.S. over travel ban fears
Published Thursday, February 2, 2017 6:59PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, February 2, 2017 7:02PM PST
A group of Vancouver Whitecaps supporters has cancelled its planned bus trips to soccer games south of the border in the wake of the U.S. president's travel ban.
The Southsiders posted a statement on its website earlier this week informing soccer fans of the decision.
The decision was made just days after the travel ban was announced, after a few members of the Southsiders reached out to say they were impacted. The ban was announced at the end of Donald Trump's first official week as U.S. president, and bars citizens of the majority-Muslim countries of Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iran from entering the country.
Following Trump's announcement, the executive board surveyed members about how they should respond before making the decision to skip bus trips.
"We try to stay away from politics as much as possible, so it was a really tough discussion," president and secretary Peter Czimmermann told CTV News.
The Southsiders' executive board met Monday to discuss travel to the team's away games, and decided it could not "in good conscience" condone events that could exclude some of its members, "no matter how few in number those affected might be," a statement from the group said.
Czimmermann said many of the board members were emotional, including himself.
"It breaks my heart. Not even just to talk about it, but to not be able to support a team that we love," he said.
"Support is always important, especially on the road."
But ultimately Czimmermann and the other board members decided that no bus trips will be coordinated until conditions at the U.S.-Canada borders have changed.
"Keep sticking together," Czimmermann said in a comment directed to members.
"If one of us is excluded for whatever reason, let's stick together… We welcome everybody and we are not going to change that stance."
The group is not asking fans to boycott games in the U.S. if they want to attend, and will still help fans get tickets to away games. It does ask group members who decide to go to games in the States to leave their Southsiders scarves behind as a gesture of solidarity with those who can no longer cross the border.