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MLS investigation inconclusive into Timbers-United racism claim

MLS investigation inconclusive into Timbers-United racism claim
Diego Chara of the Portland Timbers
A Minnesota United player allegedly directed a racist phrase at Timbers’ Diego Chara last month. (Soobum Im/Getty Images)

Major League Soccer’s investigation into racism claims during a Portland Timbers and Minnesota United match last month was inconclusive on Monday.

The league was investigating claims made by Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese and his players that a racist taunt was directed at their midfielder Diego Chara during the June 26 match.

MLS said it conducted interviews with players and officials and reviewed both video and audio from the match during its investigation.

“While MLS found the allegation to be made in good faith, the league could not corroborate or refute the allegation,” the league said in a statement. “MLS will use the moment to reinforce its commitment, and the commitment of each of its clubs, to an environment that is free from discrimination or harassment and treats all participants with respect and inclusivity.”

Timbers say United directed racist word at Diego Chara

The match between the Timbers and the United was stopped in the 65th minute on June 26, and the official stopped to speak with team captains and Chara. The game then resumed and finished without incident, and the United won 1-0.

After the game, Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese slammed the official for the way it was handled and defended Chara, who is Black and from Colombia.

“I am very and extremely disappointed that still at this time we have to deal with situations that should not be happening anymore in any sport or anywhere,” he said. “It’s things that are not acceptable, and in this game there was a situation that had to do with a racist situation. A discriminatory word that has been said to one of our players that cannot have any place in anywhere or in any situation or any sport, nowhere.

“So, I’m extremely disappointed that still at this time we have to deal with these kind of situations in a game. The referee should have handled this situation in a much better way.

“We are all in support of Diego Chara, but what happened to him today, the discriminatory word that was said to him, should not have a place anywhere 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, is with Diego Chara in this situation that happened on the field today.”

It’s unclear specifically what was said.

“The team has been investigating the matter and the player involved in the reported incident has denied making any derogatory remarks,” Minnesota United said in a statement the next day, .

“We will support the league in any investigation it chooses to make around the alleged event. MNUFC is built on inclusivity and respect, and does not tolerate discrimination under any circumstance.”

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