Red Bulls' Dante Vanzeir stepping away 'to avoid distractions'

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Belgian forward Dante Vanzeir has stepped away from the New York Red Bulls indefinitely after using a racial slur during a match against the San Jose Earthquakes this past weekend.

The Red Bulls issued a statement on Tuesday that said Vanzeir addressed his teammates that morning and left "to avoid further distractions."

The decision came a day after Vanzeir, coach Gerhard Struber and the Red Bulls organization all issued apologies. Major League Soccer was investigating.

San Jose striker Jeremy Ebobisse alleged a Red Bulls' player used a racial slur early in the second half of the 1-1 draw between the two teams at Red Bull Arena. A scuffle broke out among players and caused a lengthy delay that resulted in 21 minutes of added time at the end of the match.

Ebobisse did not name the player, but said the Earthquakes opted to play the remainder of the game because the slur wasn't directed at anybody in particular.

The league launched an investigation and issued a statement shortly afterward that said: "MLS has zero tolerance for abusive and offensive language and takes these allegations seriously."

On Monday, Vanzeir took responsibility for his language and said he would accept any discipline that the league might take.

"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," the statement said. "I made a mistake and will take all the necessary steps to grow.

"While I did not intend to cause any harm or offense with my language, I know that I did and for that I am deeply sorry," he added.

The Red Bulls said the comment, and inaction for not removing Vanzeir from the match, were "inexcusable." Struber's apology acknowledged he should have taken Vanzeir off.

"We always strive foran environment that is inclusive and anti-racist. Our organization is committed to providing the resources to further educate our players and staff, as well as rebuilding trust within our community," the team said.

Vanzeir, 24, has one goal in six appearances (one start) in his first season in MLS since making the move from Belgian side Union SG.

Information from Reuters and the Associated Press was used in this story.

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