More than the dismal results or the sub-par roster, the big story of the Chicago Fire’s 2018 season was the front office’s continued, inexplicable conflict with Sector Latino and Section 8. That fight is set to continue into 2019— and possibly beyond.
The Athletic (paywall) reported today that a federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of one member of Sector Latino related to his, and the group’s, ban. The member, identified in the article as Abraham Calderon, has named several Fire front office officials, including club president and general manager Nelson Rodriguez; Monterrey Security employees; and others as defendants in a complaint that alleges assault and discrimination.
The charges relate to an incident last May during the Fire’s home match with the Houston Dynamo. During the game, Mr. Calderon was reportedly involved in an altercation with Monterrey Security guards and ultimately ejected. He was later charged with criminal battery (those charges were dropped last month) and was banned from the stadium for 12 months.
The complaint was filed on January 4th by local attorney and long-time Fire fan James Vlahakis. Between 2013 and 2016, Mr. Vlahakis served as outside counsel for the Fire while working for the law firm Hinshaw and Culbertson LLP. In the intervening years Mr. Vlahakis has joined an increasingly loud chorus of Fire fans on Twitter dissatisfied with the club’s direction.
The complaint alleges that the defendants, including Mr. Rodriguez, “harbor unsupported and discriminatory fears relative to the fans of the Chicago Fire who are of Hispanic origin.”
Neither the Chicago Fire Soccer Club nor Major League Soccer were named as defendants in the complaint.
We’ve reached out to Mr. Vlahakis and Sector Latino for comment. We will update this post if and when they respond.
UPDATE: In response to our request for comment, Mr. Vlahakis shared additional details of subpoenas issued that pertain to the complaint.
First, a subpoena was formally issued to the Village of Bridgeview and the Village produced certain videos and claimed that others had been written over.
Second, as to the Chicago Fire, a subpoena was provided to the outside counsel for the Chicago Fire, and while it was not formally served, outside counsel for the Chicago Fire agreed to preserve video evidence.
Third, while outside counsel for the Chicago Fire declined to identify the name of the “Soccer Security Agent”, the subpoena (which was tendered by not formally served) did not ask the Chicago Fire to identify the “Soccer Security Agent”. Instead, I informally asked the attorney do to so and he declined.
My main concern is the fact that the Village was unable to explain why videos from security cameras were not preserved – despite the fact that the cameras appeared to be well position to film the incident involving my client (as well as the incident with Fire fans and Houston Fans).
Mr. Vlahakis also spelled out his preferred outcome for the complaint. “[M]y client wants to be fairly compensated for the injuries and deprivations he suffered, and he wants his ban lifted.”