MLS suspends New York Red Bulls' Dante Vanzeir for six games

Friday, April 14, 2023

Major League Soccer has suspended New York Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir for six games for using racist language during his team's game against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

In a statement, the league said: "Vanzeir is prohibited from participating in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, MLS NEXT Pro games, and exhibition matches until the suspension is completed.

"The League has also imposed an undisclosed fine and will require Vanzeir to participate in additional League-mandated training and education sessions, as well as a restorative practices program."

The incident in question occurred in the 54th minute of the Red Bulls 1-1 draw with the Quakes when Vanzeir said something to Jeremy Ebobisse that prompted an angry reaction from the San Jose striker, who alleged a player used a racial slur directed at him. Ebobisse, who is Black, did not name the player.

The length of the suspension is the longest such ban for a language-related offense in MLS history

On Monday, both the Red Bulls and Vanzeir issued apologies to Ebobisse and the Earthquakes organization, with the club announcing a day later that the 24-year-old Belgian would be stepping away from the team while MLS conducted its investigation to avoid further distractions.

In his statement on Monday, Vanzeir said:"I want to sincerely apologize to the players of the Earthquakes. I will do everything I can to be part of the change that needs to happen in this sport and our world.I also want to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the organization and our fans. I made a mistake and will take all the necessary steps to grow."

Vanzeir was left in the game on Saturday, which included 21 minutes of stoppage time, and manager Gerhard Struber expressed regret for not acting more quickly to bring in a substitute for the 24-year-old.

"During our match on Saturday, I made a decision that I thought was best given the information I had at that moment," Struber said. "While there was a lot of uncertainty at the time, with the information that I now know, the right decision would have been to immediately remove Dante Vanzeir from the game."

Struber was not fined or suspended for his actions.

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