Major League Soccer will investigate a report of racist comments by Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen, the league said Thursday.
In the report by The Athletic, former RSL head scout Andy Williams recounted incidents of racist comments that he alleged were made by Hansen.
“We are deeply concerned about the allegations made in a report published this evening concerning language used by and the conduct of Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen,” MLS said in a statement. “Major League Soccer has zero tolerance for this type of language or conduct and will immediately commence an investigation.”
That announcement came shortly after MLS commissioner Don Garber condemned comments Hansen made on his players’ decision to sit out a game Wednesday in protest of the police shooting of James Blake in Wisconsin.
Hansen told a Salt Lake City radio station he was upset about the boycott, taking the decision to skip the game as a personal insult.
“It’s like someone stabbed you and then you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward,” Hansen told radio station KXRK. “The disrespect was profound to me personally.”
Real and visiting Los Angeles FC decided not to play about an hour before their scheduled kickoff, following the lead of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and several Major League Baseball and MLS squads who sat down in protest of police shootings of African-Americans, including that of Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Five of six scheduled MLS matches on Wednesday were not played.
“I appreciate Dell Loy Hansen’s efforts to build the sport of soccer in Utah,” Garber said in a statement, commending Hansen’s commitment not only to MLS but also to women’s and youth soccer.
“However, I strongly disagree with the comments he made today, the way they were expressed, and they do not reflect the views of MLS.
“This is a time for all of us to work together in the pursuit of racial equality and social justice,” Garber said.
The Athletic report put a further spotlight on Hansen, who also owns the National Women’s Soccer League’s Utah Royals.
“The allegations regarding Dell Loy Hansen contained in published reports are shocking and run counter to everything the NWSL stands for,” the NWSL said in a statement. “We will immediately begin an investigation, and if these reports are substantiated, take all appropriate actions.”