MLS announced on Thursday that it is investigating claims that Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen repeatedly uses racist language in the presence of players and team staff.
The allegations surfaced in a report by The Athletic published hours after Hansen condemned MLS players for their Wednesday walkout calling for justice in the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
The investigative report from the Athletic details separate occasions in which witnesses accuse Hansen of using the N-word, making a reference to lynching and mistaking a player for “a thug.”
MLS: ‘We are deeply concerned’
Shortly after the report, MLS released a statement condemning the alleged language and announcing an investigation.
‘Donald Sterling part 2’
The report details several occasions citing multiple witnesses accusing Hansen of using racist language. Former RSL player turned team scout Andy Williams — a Black man — spoke bluntly on the record with The Athletic about Hansen while comparing him to disgraced former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was blackballed from the NBA after a history of racist behavior.
“He’s a f----ing racist, to be honest,” Williams told the Athletic. “I’ve been in situations where it’s like Donald Sterling. He says something, and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what did he just say?’ It’s Donald Sterling part two. It’s just unbelievable. It’s crazy how he doesn’t see that the stuff that he says affects people.”
History of alleged racist incidents
Williams recounted an alleged 2016 incident in which Hansen asked “when are we gonna lynch this guy?” about an opposing Black player who scored a goal. Another witness backed up Williams’ claim.
Williams recounted a separate incident in which he said Hansen casually used the N-word in a dispute with a team employee.