MLS can’t verify Taxi Fountas used slur; calls allegation ‘credible’

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DC United star taxi Foundas will not face discipline from MLS after a league investigation found no conclusive evidence he directed a racial slur at an opponent during a Sept. 18 game at Audi Field.

The league said Monday that Miami defender Aimé Mabika’s claim was “credible” but could not “independently verify” it. MLS also said it does not find credible “Fuda’s claim that he said nothing at the time — biased or otherwise. The video of the incident clearly shows Mabika reacting suddenly to something he thought he heard from Fuda.”

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

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

Miami refused to continue playing unless Foundas was removed from the game. United manager Wayne Rooney obliged.

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“I did not use the word I am accused of using,” Foundas wrote in an Instagram post a day later. “This despicable racial slur is something I denounce and did not use. We had a heated discussion on the field. But I have not racially abused anyone. I categorically reject racism in any form. It’s deplorable.”

Referee Ismail Elfath told a pool reporter at the time that no staff member had heard racist or abusive language and that none had been caught on video.

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As previously scheduled, Fountas then traveled to Greece to compete twice with his national team. He was due to return stateside for the final two MLS games of the season, but citing the stress of the situation on Fouda and his family, Rooney granted him extra time off.

Foundas, United’s only all-star selection, is under contract until the 2024 season. This year, he had 12 goals and three assists in 21 appearances.

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In a statement, United officials said they “appreciate and accept the findings of the league’s investigation, as well as the conclusion that the act in question could not be confirmed after numerous interviews conducted with individuals involved and close to the incident.”

MLS interviewed Fuda at least twice, people familiar with the investigation said, and contacted United’s Christian Benteke and Ravel Morrison, who are black. Both were on the field at the time of the incident. Several Miami players were also interviewed.

Foundas was not available for comment Monday, but a person who spoke with him said the player is “relieved and eager to return.” Miami officials did not immediately comment.

MLS said it will review its policies and practices related to complaints of abusive and discriminatory language.

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

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As part of updated guidelines enacted in December, teams must interview at least two candidates from underrepresented groups, including one black candidate, for coaching staff positions such as coach and general manager. (The previous rules mandated a candidate from these groups.)

Starting with a shortlist of at least five candidates, United spoke to a black and a Latino coach — both from overseas, a person close to the situation said — but one of those conversations “wouldn’t be considered a ‘finalist'” interview. . “, said the league.

One candidate, United said in a statement, went through the same process as the others. However, the club added, he then told team officials he would not be interested in a job that started mid-season.

“Upon learning of this, the club turned its attention to the remaining potential finalists,” United said.

The league, however, said United “remained obligated to bring an additional candidate from an underrepresented team to the ‘finalist team’ or request a waiver from MLS, detailing extenuating circumstances that would prevent them from doing so.”



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