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 he directed racial abuse at an opponent during a match of September 18 at Audi Field.

The league said on Monday that Miami defender Aimé Mabika’s claim was “valid” but that it could not “independently verify”. MLS also said that it lacks credibility “Fountas’ statement that he did not say at that time – contempt or not. The video of the incident clearly shows Mabika’s immediate reaction to something he believed and he heard from Fountas.

As part of the investigation, the league said it interviewed several people and reviewed video footage and audio recordings but was unable to determine “what Fountas said at the time.”

Mabika accused Fountas of using the word ni during an incident with Damion Lowe in the second half. Lowe, who is Jamaican, and Mabika, who is Zambian, is black. Fountas, the Greek, is White.

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Miami refused to continue the game unless Fountas was removed from the game. United Coach Wayne Rooney insisted.

“I never used the word I’m being accused of using,” Fountas wrote in an Instagram post a day later. “It’s that racial slur that I hate and don’t use. We had a heated discussion on stage. But I didn’t hurt anyone. I strongly reject racism in any way. It’s disgusting.

Referee Ismail Elfath told a reporter at the time that no official had heard any racist or abusive language and nothing had been seen through video review.

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As previously scheduled, Fountas traveled to Greece to play twice for his national team. He had to return stateside for the final two MLS games of the season, but citing the importance of the situation on Fountas and his family, Rooney gave him time off.

Fountas, United’s only option, is under contract until 2024. This year, he has a career-high 12 goals and added three assists in 21 appearances.

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In a statement, United officials said “respect and accept the findings of the investigation of the league, and the conclusion that the action in question cannot be confirmed after several interviews carried out with the people who are close to the event.”

MLS interviewed Fountas twice, people familiar with the investigation said, and linked United’s Christian Benteke and Ravel Morrison, who are black. Both were on the scene when it happened. Several Miami players were also interviewed.

Fountas was not available for comment Monday, but a person who spoke with him said he was “rested and eager to get back.” Miami officials did not immediately comment.

MLS said it will review its policies and practices in response to allegations of defamation and discrimination.

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In a separate investigation, MLS announced it had fined United $25,000 for violating the league’s discriminatory hiring policy before the club signed Rooney in July. A first offense carries a fine of up to $50,000.

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Under new guidelines enacted in December, companies must interview two candidates from underrepresented groups, including one Black candidate, for jobs on professional staff, such as a coach and including the general manager. (Previous rules mandated one candidate from each of those groups.)

Starting with a list of five candidates, United spoke with a black and Latino teacher – from other countries, a person close to the situation said – but some of those talks “could not be considered as ‘finalist pool’ interview,” the league said.

One candidate, United said in a statement, went through the same process as the others. However, the team added, and then he told the team officials that he did not want a job that started in the middle season.

“Upon learning this, the company has focused its attention on the remaining candidates,” United said.

However, the league said United would be forced to bring in a new candidate from a club not represented in the ‘finalist pool’ or request a waiver from MLS outlining the conditions. conditions that make them unable to do so.



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