New York Red Bulls Player Accused of Using ‘Racist Remark’ to ‘Step Away’
Dante Vanzeir, the New York Red Bulls player accused of using a “racist remark” during the club’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes over the weekend, will “step away” from the team indefinitely.
“Dante Vanzeir addressed his teammates this morning and, to avoid further distractions, will step away from the club until further notice,” the Red Bulls announced via Twitter on Tuesday.
A rep for the San Jose Earthquakes declined to comment Tuesday. A rep for Major League Soccer (MLS) did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
The update comes several days after Vanzeir was accused of using racist language on the pitch. Quakes player Jeremy Ebobisse, who is Black, said over the weekend that he heard a player use offensive language, and informed the match referee of the incident.
Referees stopped play for 20 minutes, before resuming the game, which ended in a 1-1 tie. MLS said in a statement after the match Saturday that they would be investigating the incident saying the league has “zero tolerance for abusive and offensive language.”
“What we saw tonight should not be part of the game,” Ebobisse told reporters after the game (via MLSSoccer.com’s Tom Bogert). The player added that the racial remark was not aimed toward him, but “I know what I heard.”
On Monday, the Red Bulls issued a statement on behalf of Vanzeir, in which the Belgian player apologized and said that he would “agree to any suspension, fine and counseling that is handed down by Major League Soccer and the club.” (The RBNY club and coaching staff also apologized for not pulling the player off the field after the incident, and for their “inexcusable” inaction during the game.)
Earthquakes coach Luchi Gonzalez said after the game that he gave his team the option of exiting the match entirely, but the players opted to continue the game, resulting in an MLS-record 22 minutes of stoppage time.
“I was adamant to suggest that the player should not be on the field anymore,” Gonzalez told reporters after the game. “When I listen to my players in terms of what was said or not said, there are things there that are unacceptable. It takes precedent over the game we play.”
Ebobisse said, “What is important for me to share is that I know what I heard and the reason why I felt, after a lengthy conversation, we should continue with the game is because the player who said the word claimed it was not aimed at any of us.”
While Ebobisse didn’t name Vanzeir specifically postgame, it appeared from the action on the field that that the player sparked the incident: During the pause in action, Gonzalez reportedly asked Red Bulls manager Gerhard Struber to remove Vanzeir from the game. However, Vanzeir remained in the match when play resumed and wasn’t substituted out until the 87th minute.
Ebobisse later added, “This is what it is to be Black in these situations. You can’t be wrong, you can’t overstep anything outside of what you know to be fact. You have to proceed with absolute caution, even in moments of hurt when you’re feeling rather powerless.”
After the match, the California team said it would “fully support” MLS’ investigation. “Our club does not tolerate any form of racism or abuse and we stand with our players following these very serious allegations,” the club wrote. “This language has no place in our game.”
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