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Colorado's Tim Howard apologizes, urges MLS to review fan behavior rules

Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard has apologized for an altercation with a fan that led to a three-game suspension, but also criticized the security arrangements at Children's Mercy Park, the home venue of Sporting Kansas City.

During Colorado's April 9 3-1 loss to Sporting KC, Howard was caught on video exchanging expletives with fans behind the goal during the game. A source told ESPN FC's Doug McIntyre that as Howard exited the field after the match was over, a fan confronted him. Howard responded by grabbing the fan by the arm.

A security camera recorded the incident, and while a source with knowledge of the situation said the recording was "pretty useless" the source added: "There's no dispute about what happened." Howard served the first game of his suspension last weekend in Colorado's 2-1 home loss to Real Salt Lake.

In a post on Facebook, Howard said he was "genuinely sorry" for his behavior.

"I let myself get too worked up after being provoked and said some things I shouldn't have," he wrote. "I am at fault and certainly not a victim in this incident."

But Howard, in his second season with Colorado, also expressed disappointment that neither the Rapids nor MLS disclosed the full context of the incident, including the "fan's antagonistic behavior or the negligent security." Howard wrote, "It is not OK for an apparently drunk fan to get inches away from an athlete's face and yell obscenities at them."

Howard, who spent over a decade playing in the English Premier League, and has also been part of three World Cup squads with the U.S. national team, added that he was not taunted about his race or the fact that he has Tourette's syndrome. That said, he indicated that he had never been put in a situation like that before.

Howard wrote that he's not advocating censorship of fans or security policing against passion, but instructing athletes to "endure all, respond to none" is not the right answer either, and that more needs to be done to create and maintain a fan-friendly and safe environment.

"I want security to keep fans at enough of a distance that a physical confrontation is impossible," he wrote.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

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