RSL owner slammed for anti-boycott comments

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Current and former MLS players spoke out against Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen after saying in an interview that players’ boycott of games on Wednesday made him question how much further he wanted to invest in the club.

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Players from around the league declined to play in protest of racial injustice, and in particular the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Two demonstrators were killed in the city two days later. The development came as players in both the NBA and WNBA declined to play in support of Black Lives Matter as well as to protest what took place in Kenosha.

Speaking with X96’s Radio From Hell on Thursday, Hansen — who owns the station — expressed his dissatisfaction with the players’ actions, saying “they clearly supported national issues, but it’s very apparent that they didn’t support our local community” and “there’s a profound disappointment that the spirit that is Real was abandoned last night…. Obviously, the importance of bringing community together during COVID was not respected.”

Hansen, who added that “the disrespect was profound to me, personally,” threatened to not reopen the RSL stadium and to pull his money out of the club.

“It’s taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team. It just seems that’s not a very good path to take,” Hansen said.

“We will not be inviting fans back to the stadium in the future, so tomorrow I start cutting 40 to 50 jobs again.”

Jozy Altidore and former player Nick Rimando were among the players on Thursday criticizing Hansen for his comments.

“He needs to sell the team then. I’m involved in a group that’s ready to purchase it. Time for change,” tweeted Altidore.

Retired RSL goalkeeper Rimando said Hansen’s comments did not reflect the club.

“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,” he tweeted.

Utah Jazz player Donovan Mitchell also voiced his support for the players’ decision on Wednesday night and suggested that Hansen consider selling the club. “WOW… if it’s taken “the wind” out then sell the team… I stand with @realsaltlake players,” Mitchell tweeted.

On Thursday, the NBA players announced they would resume playing on Friday. Neither MLS nor the players have yet commented.

Neither MLS nor the MLS players association have yet commented.