MLS will investigate allegations that DC United’s Taxi Fountas called Inter Miami player the N-word

Inter Miami defender Damion Lowe (L) after the alleged incident involving Taxi Fountas (R). (Photo: Geoff Burke-USA Today Sports)

Inter Miami gamers and head coach Phil Neville alleged Sunday that DC United ahead Taxi Fountas directed a racial slur at one in every of their gamers throughout an MLS sport between the two groups.

The incident occurred throughout the second half of a 3-2 Miami win, and led to a five-minute stoppage in play, throughout which referee Ismail Elfath initiated MLS’s protocol for on-field allegations of racial abuse.

Neville stated postgame that “a phrase was used that is unacceptable in society. It is the worst phrase in the world.”

Miami defender DeAndre Yedlin stated that, after a confrontation between Fountas and Miami defender Damion Lowe, Fountas “called him the N-word.” (Fountas, a Greek star who joined DC United earlier this yr, is white. Lowe, a Jamaican, is Black.)

Elfath, in written responses to questions from pool reporter Pablo Maurer, stated that “no official heard any racist or abusive language.” An MLS spokeswoman informed Yahoo Sports that a league investigation will start promptly.

DC United coach Wayne Rooney, who pulled Fountas from the sport virtually instantly after the incident, stated that “there was a criticism, which I’m certain will get investigated. Not rather more I can say.”

The Taxi Fountas-Damion Lowe incident

The preliminary confrontation between the two gamers occurred late in the 59th minute. Fountas challenged Lowe for the ball as Lowe was passing again to his personal goalkeeper. After he’d launched the ball, Lowe appeared to lift his elbow. Fountas then pushed Lowe in the chest, and the two went chest to chest and brow to brow for a couple of seconds, presumably exchanging phrases.

Just a few seconds after that, Elfath stopped the sport. He spoke with Lowe, then with the two groups’ captains. He jogged over to the sideline to speak with Rooney and Neville, and appeared to clarify that there had been an allegation of racism, and that he was following the related protocols.

Elfath then jogged again to the area and issued yellow playing cards to Fountas and Lowe for the authentic altercation. After a quick dialogue, Elfath requested for the ball and ready to restart the sport. Just a few seconds later, TV cameras flashed again to Fountas and Lowe, at which level Lowe was being half-restrained, half-comforted by a teammate, and pointing at Fountas.

Just a few seconds later, Lowe gave the impression to be explaining to different DC United gamers that Fountas had called him a “n*****.”

Yedlin stated postgame that Aimé Mabika, one other Miami defender who can also be Black, additionally heard the slur and reacted emotionally.

“[Mabika] is one in every of the nicest guys, so whenever you see him react in the method that he did, you understand it is in all probability one thing fairly severe,” Yedlin stated. “It’s one thing that hit him fairly exhausting. And as quickly as I heard what he stated, I received fairly emotional as effectively.”

Yedlin additionally stated that Mabika confronted Fountas, and later informed Yedlin that “you might inform there was disgrace in his demeanor. You know, head down, form of backing up a bit. He tried to stay his hand out, however [Mabika] stated, ‘I’m not shaking your hand after that.'”

(The ESPN+ broadcast didn’t seize the portion of the incident when the slur allegedly occurred, nor a lot of the on-field sound.)

Yedlin, Neville: Miami was ready to forfeit

Yedlin and different Miami gamers, in the meantime, had come to the sideline. Yedlin stated postgame that he, his teammates and Neville had determined that they’d not play the remainder of the match “till one thing was executed with that player, and if nothing was executed, then we weren’t going to proceed.”

Neville indicated that he was ready to simply accept a forfeit. “I’d have given up the consequence to make a stand,” he stated.

Neville and Rooney, former teammates at Manchester United in England, spoke a number of instances throughout the minute-long stoppage. Elfath, at one level, once more jogged in direction of the sideline and huddled with the two coaches. Lowe walked in direction of the sideline in dialog with DC United’s Ravel Morrison and Christian Benteke, each of whom are additionally Black.

The sport finally resumed in the sixty fifth minute — however solely after Elfath spoke to Lowe along with his arm round the player’s shoulder, and solely after Neville patted Rooney on the cheek as the two went again to their respective benches.

Less than a minute later, Rooney despatched on a sub for Fountas, and put his arm round Fountas as the 27-year-old All-Star exited the area. Neville later stated that he had “huge respect” for Rooney, and that on Sunday evening, Rooney “did greater than any aim he is ever scored.”

Yedlin’s interpretation was that, after Neville and Rooney spoke, “they determined to take the player off.”

A DC United spokesman stated in a press release two-and-a-half hours after the sport that the membership was “conscious of the allegations involving a player throughout the match towards Inter Miami CF. The membership will work intently with Major League Soccer and Inter Miami to investigate the incident.”

Miami gained the sport on a stoppage-time aim from Gonzalo Higuain. Yedlin, although, stated that “at the finish of the day, it does not even really feel like a win due to that extremely darkish second.

“It’s gonna be very fascinating to see what sort of stand the league takes towards this,” Yedlin stated. “And we’ll see how severe they’re about this subject. We have a variety of campaigns, we will put on T-shirts, we will have indicators, and ‘say no to racism’ and all this, however at the finish of the day, it retains occurring. So, at what level is there going to be an actual stand made? [One] that actually kinda says — excuse my language — ‘no bulls***.'”

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