U.S. Soccer and USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter want fans to know there is no place in the sport for racist comments.
The organization and Berhalter issued strong statements in support of USMNT defender Mark McKenzie after he revealed he received racist messages after the team’s win over Mexico.
U.S. Soccer’s statement did not mention McKenzie by name, but said fans who send “racist, homophobic, vulgar or disrespectful comments” are “not welcome. EVER.”
Berhalter specifically said the team stands with McKenzie.
Berhalter’s full statement read:
“It’s absolutely disgusting, things like that. It has no place in sport. The guys, in our business, professional sports, you take enough criticism about performance and about guys having an off game and saying you’re not a good player or something like that. And to bring something like race into it is absolutely disgusting and out of bounds. It has no place for it.
“I’ve been following the players in England as well and now it hits closer to home. We support Mark 100 percent. We don’t stand for any of that stuff. We have absolutely zero tolerance for things like that. I wish there was a way to hold people like that more accountable. To me, people get on Twitter and get on Instagram or whatever and they get bold. And they do things that they normally wouldn’t do in life. And I wish there was a way to hold them more accountable, because that has no place in our day.”
Mark McKenzie received racist messages after win
McKenzie was on the wrong end of two huge plays during the USMNT’s 3-2 win against Mexico. Early in the contest, McKenzie misplayed a ball that led to Mexico’s first score of the night. Later, McKenzie was called for a hand ball. Goalie Ethan Horvath made a big save on a penalty kick to maintain the lead.
Even though the team won, McKenzie — who is Black — still received racist messages on Instagram. He shared a post featuring one of those comments, calling out the “abuse and personal attacks” he received following the contest.
The match also featured homophobic chants from fans and items being thrown on the field.
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