Los Angeles (AFP) – Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen said Thursday he felt “disrespected” by his Major League Soccer team’s decision not to play over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Hansen told a Salt Lake City radio station he was upset about the boycott, taking the decision to skip the game as a personal insult.
“It’s like someone stabbed you and then you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward,” Hansen told radio station KXRK. “The disrespect was profound to me personally.”
Real and visiting Los Angeles FC decided not to play about an hour before their scheduled kickoff, following the lead of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and several Major League Baseball and MLS squads who sat down in protest of police shootings of African-Americans, including that of Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Five of six scheduled MLS matches on Wednesday were not played.
Hansen apologized to fans, sponsors and staff for the game not being played. The stadium was set to hold 5,000 spectators, the first time since March the club would have played before spectators.
That could lead Hansen to cut more than 40 jobs he brought back and have second thoughts about investing in talent for the team as well, he said.
“It has taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team,” he said. “It just seems that’s not a very good path to take.”
Retired RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando tweeted, “Wow just wow! I can’t even right now. @realsaltlake locker room, fans, and front office that stand for equality, human rights, and the fight against racism I applaud you. I am disgusted by DLH comments. This is more than a game.”
NBA Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell called upon Hansen to sell the club, tweeting, “WOW… if it’s taken ‘the wind’ out then sell the team… I stand with @realsaltlake players.”
US striker Jozy Altidore of Toronto FC offered himself as a potential purchaser, saying, “He needs to sell the team then. I’m involved in a group that’s ready to purchase it. Time for change.”
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