MLS can’t verify Taxi Fountas used slur; calls allegation ‘credible’

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DC United star Taxi Fountas will not face disciplinary action from MLS after the league’s investigation found no conclusive evidence that he directed racial slurs at an opponent during a Sept. 18 Audi Field.

The league said on Monday that Miami defender Aimé Mabika’s allegation was “credible” but could not “independently verify”. MLS also said that it did not find “credible Fountas’ claim that he did not say anything at the time – discriminatory or otherwise. The video of the incident clearly shows Mabika reacting suddenly in something he believes he heard from Fountas.”

As part of the investigation, the league said it interviewed several people and reviewed video and audio recordings but did not know “what Fountas said at the time.”

Mabika had accused Fountas of using the n-word during an incident with Damion Lowe in the second half. Lowe, who is Jamaican, and Mabika, who is Zambian, are Black. Fountas, which is Greek, is White.

Miami refused to resume play unless Fountas was removed from the game. United coach Wayne Rooney obliged.

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“I didn’t use the word I’m being accused of,” Fountas wrote in an Instagram post a day later. “That despicable racial slur is what I condemn and I did not use it. We had a heated discussion in the field. But I did not racially abuse anyone. I strongly oppose racism in any form. It is despicable.”

Referee Ismail Elfath told a pool reporter at the time that no official had heard racist or abusive language and that none had been seen on video surveillance.

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As planned, Fountas went to Greece to play twice for his national team. He was supposed to return to the state for the last two MLS games of the season, but citing stress on Fountas and his family, Rooney gave him more time off.

Fountas, United’s one star option, is under contract until the 2024 season. This year, he had a team-high 12 goals and added three assists in 21 games.

In a statement, United officials said they “appreciate and accept the results of the league’s investigation, as well as the decision that the action in question cannot be confirmed following several discussions with the people involved and close to the incident.” that.”

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MLS interviewed Fountas at least twice, people familiar with the investigation said, and joined United’s Christian Benteke and Ravel Morrison, who are black. Both were on the field at the time of the incident. Several Miami players were also interviewed.

Fountas could not be reached for comment Monday, but a person who spoke to him said the player is “rested and looking forward to returning.” Miami officials did not immediately comment.

MLS said it will review its policies and practices related to allegations of offensive and discriminatory language.

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In another investigation, MLS announced that it had fined United $25,000 for violating the diversity recruitment policy before the club selected Rooney in July. A first offense carries a fine of up to $50,000.

As part of updated guidelines established in December, teams are required to interview at least two candidates from underrepresented groups, including one black candidate, for jobs in technical staff, such as the coach and general manager. (Previous rules mandated one candidate from each of those groups.)

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Starting with a list of at least five, United spoke to a Black and Latino coach – both from abroad, a person close to the situation said – but one of these talks “would not is considered a ‘final pool’ discussion”, the league said.

Another candidate, United said in a statement, made the same move as the others. However, the club added, and he told the club officials that he would not be interested in the job that started in the middle of the year.

“When the team learned this, they focused on the remaining candidates,” United said.

However, the League said United “are still obliged to bring in an additional candidate from a team standing below the ‘final pool’ or request a withdrawal from MLS specifying unforeseen circumstances that would I allow them to do that.



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