I'm sorry, but MLS should review player safety - Howard
Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard has apologised for his part in an altercation with Sporting Kansas City supporters but called for Major League Soccer to "review fan-athlete interactions" after the incident.
Howard was suspended for three matches and fined an undisclosed amount after he was filmed exchanging expletives with opposition fans during his side's 3-1 defeat against Sporting KC and allegedly grabbing a supporter while walking off the pitch.
The 38-year-old expressed his regret over his actions, but described himself as "surprised and concerned" by the MLS review into the match.
"I want to begin by saying I am genuinely sorry for my behaviour in Kansas City and I want to apologise to my fans," Howard said in a message on his personal Facebook page.
"I let myself get too worked up after being provoked and said some things I shouldn’t have. I am at fault and certainly not a victim in this incident.
"With that being said, I feel compelled to elaborate a bit more based upon the responses of others. After reviewing the incident in Kansas City, my league and my team chose to admonish me and suspend me for almost 10 per cent of the season, but they did not say a word about the fan’s antagonistic behaviour or the negligent security.
"While I regret my reaction and understand the need to take action on their part, I am surprised and concerned that the full context of the incident wasn't considered and responsibility wasn’t shared."
Colorado are bottom of the MLS Western Conference following a run of just one win in their last five games, and Howard is set to miss the forthcoming trip to face fellow strugglers Minnesota United on Sunday.
Howard called for officials to provide additional reassurance and protection for players to prevent future incidents.
The former Everton and Manchester United goalkeeper said: "We all want passionate fans but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. It is not okay for an apparently drunk fan to get inches away from an athlete’s face and yell obscenities at them.
"While I should have controlled my reaction, I want to make it clear that I have never been put into a situation like that until Kansas City. I’m not a security expert, so don’t know the details of how a fan could get so close, but it was not the norm and not right.
"I want security to keep fans at enough of a distance that a physical confrontation is impossible. I am convinced that instructing athletes to 'endure all, respond to none' is not the right answer."