Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Chara was reportedly the subject of racist comments from a Minnesota United player during a recent game. Chara’s head coach Giovanni Savarese disclosed the incident but did not identify the alleged offender or the specific comment made.
The incident occurred during the second half of the MLS Week 10 game between the Timbers and Minnesota at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. On June 26. The MNUFC won the game 1-0.
The next day, MLS announced it would be investigating:
What happened in Portland?
The match broadcast showed Chara pointing at a Minnesota player in the 64th minute, and broadcasters indicated that Chara had a conversation with referee Rosendo Mendoza. The images also showed Chara exchanging words with Franco Fragapane of the MNUFC.
Mendoza then consulted with his official colleagues, then met with the team captains and Chara. Fragapane attempted to join in this conversation, but was dismissed by his captain.
The match resumed three minutes after the stoppage.
What was said after the match
Savarese opened his post-match press conference with a statement on the 64th minute incident.
“I am very, extremely disappointed that at this point in time we still had to face situations that should not be happening in any sport or anywhere – things that are not acceptable. And in that game there was a situation that had to do with a racist situation, a discriminatory word that was said to one of our players who cannot have his place anywhere, in any situation, in any sport, anywhere.
“So I am extremely disappointed that at the moment we still have to face these kinds of situations in a game. And the referee should have handled the situation in a much better way. We all support Diego Chara but what is him? arrived today, the discriminatory word that was said to him must have no place at this time, and I am extremely disappointed that it was not taken as seriously as it should have been. The whole team, myself, the whole organization team are with Diego Chara in this situation which occurred on the pitch today. “
“We all support Diego Chara. What happened to him today, the discriminatory word he was told, should have no place anywhere.”
– Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) June 27, 2021
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Minnesota manager Adrian Heath was not asked about the incident during his post-game press conference. The club released a statement to Pioneer Press, claiming that Heath “spoke with the player and [the player] says he didn’t say anything. “
Arbitration protocol for racist incidents
The Professional Referee Organization (PRO), which oversees professional referees in the United States and Canada, issued a statement on the actions of the referees, who, contrary to Savarese’s advice, followed protocol:
The arbitrator did not witness or hear the comment and was therefore unable to take disciplinary action.
The referee met other match officials, who confirmed that they had not witnessed or heard the alleged comment. The referee then went further to inform the captains of both teams that he was aware of the allegation, that he could not issue a sanction, but that he would include the incident in his official match report. to initiate further investigation.
In this case, the referee acted appropriately in accordance with the annual diversity and anti-discrimination training protocols, to which all PRO match officials are required to participate in each season in order to identify and respond to effectively to any form of discrimination during competition.
PRO and its match officials will cooperate with the MLS investigation which is already underway.
Conclusion: If a member of the refereeing team witnesses a racist comment from a player, that referee team can impose a disciplinary sanction on the spot. If officials do not hear the comment, all that can be done is acknowledge the allegation, alert the captains and submit a detailed post-match report.
How past incidents were handled
Cases of racist abuse between players at top level football matches have occurred in the past and disciplinary proceedings have led to different results.
Czech Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela has been suspended for 10 matches by UEFA, the governing body of European football, for “racist behavior” against Glasgow Rangers player Glen Kamara, who received a three-game suspension for a post-match act of aggression following their Europa League game. in March (photo below). These bans were limited to European continental competitions.
La Liga, Spain’s top league, have found no evidence to back up claims by Mouctar Diakhaby of Valencia that Juan Cala of Cadiz racially assaulted him in April. This investigation also involved lip reading specialists. At the time of the incident, Diakhaby’s teammates at Valencia left the pitch with him and 20 minutes later returned to the pitch without him to complete the game.
Players from both sides left the pitch last year in a December 2020 UEFA Champions League game between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir, but this incident was different. A member of the Istanbul coaching staff alleged that a member of the referee team called him “the Negro”. The match resumed a day later with a new set of officials and UEFA suspended the official for “inappropriate behavior” and ordered him to “attend an educational program”.
The American Football Federation found insufficient evidence after an investigation into an alleged incident of racial abuse by an opposing player against then-LAFC striker Adama Diomande. The match in question was a US Open Cup quarterfinal in July 2018 between LAFC and the Portland Timbers. The game was played in its entirety and LAFC won 3-2.
LA Galaxy II, the LA Galaxy reserve team that plays in the USL Second Division, released Omar Ontiveros last September, who was convicted of directing a racial insult against a black Loyal player from San Diego. He was also suspended for six games by the USL. The game ended in a tie 1-1, but after the San Diego coaching staff learned of the post-game incident, the organization opted to forgo the run from the draw.