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Embattled Real Salt Lake owner selling MLS, women’s clubs

New York (AFP) – Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen, under investigation by Major League Soccer for racist remarks, will sell the team and two related clubs, MLS commissioner Don Garber said Sunday.

MLS was informed that Hansen will sell Utah Soccer Holdings, which owns Real Salt Lake, the Utah Royals of the National Women’s Soccer League and men’s developmental club Real Monarchs, Garber said in a statement.

“MLS will work with Mr. Hansen on supporting the sale efforts for the company and will work closely with the club’s executive staff to support the operations of the team during the transition period,” Garber said.

Real Salt Lake said Friday that Hansen would take a leave of absence while MLS and the NWSL looked into allegations he used racist language.

“As MLS and NWSL commence their investigations, Utah Soccer will ensure full cooperation, including seeking to answer any questions the leagues may have about the statements made by Mr Hansen regarding athlete boycotts and allegations in a resulting article,” the statement said.

“As an organization, our priority is our employees, our teams, our players, and our fans, and Mr. Hansen in particular cares deeply for each of these individuals who works so hard to make Utah Soccer the success that it is.”

The allegations of racist remarks by Hansen surfaced in a report by The Athletic on Thursday, citing former Real Salt Lake scout Andy Williams.

Hansen was already under fire for comments about RSL players deciding to sit out a home match Wednesday in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

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 teams that sat down in protest of police shootings of African-Americans, including that of Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

While five of six scheduled MLS matches on Wednesday were not played, Hansen saw the move as a sign of “disrespect.”

“It’s like someone stabbed you and then you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward,” he said in comments to a Utah radio station.

Hansen apologized to fans who had come to the stadium for the match, the first with a limited audience since MLS shut down its season in March over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Garber said he “strongly disagreed” with those comments, adding, “Major League Soccer has zero tolerance for this type of language or conduct,” while the NWSL said the allegations “run counter to everything the NWSL stands for.”

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