Major League Soccer

MLS to take no further action following Portland-Minnesota racism investigation

Lizzy Becherano
Diego Chara said he was racially abused
Diego Chara said he was racially abused / Abbie Parr/Getty Images
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Major League Soccer announced no further actions would be taken after concluding their investigation into the allegation that a Minnesota United player racially abused a Portland Timbers counterpart during a match on June 26.

The league stated that they are unable to corroborate the incident, and thus will not be filing direct sanctions on anyone involved with the situation. 

The alleged incident detailed Franco Fragapane racially abusing Portland midfielder Diego Chara around the 62nd minute. At the time, referee Rosendo Mendoza suspended play to speak with the captains from both teams before opting to resume action without any disciplinary action. Immediately following the game, Major League Soccer commenced their investigation into the situation.

Almost two weeks later, the league announced its findings.

“MLS conducted a thorough review of the incident, which included interviews with the match official and players, as well as an examination of all available audio and video footage from the match," a statement read. "While MLS found the allegation to be made in good faith, the League could not corroborate or refute the allegation. MLS will use this moment to reinforce its commitment, and the commitment of each of its Clubs, to an environment that is free from discrimination or harassment and treats all participants with respect and inclusivity.”

No further sanctions will be taken at this time. Instead, the league took the opportunity to remind all players and clubs to complete annual Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Training. 

Giovanni Savarese
Savarese is not happy with how the incident has been dealt with / Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Portland Timbers head coach Gio Savarese has not been silent on the situation, expressing his disdain at the league since handling the incident on the pitch. Post match, Savarese reiterated that the language heard has absolutely no place in American soccer. 

"I am very and extremely disappointed that still at this time we have to deal with situations that should not be happening anymore or in any sport or anywhere," he said. "It's things that are not acceptable and, in this game, there was a situation that had to do with a racist situation. A discriminatory word that has been said to one of our players that cannot have any place in anywhere or in any situation or any sport, nowhere. So, I'm extremely disappointed that still at this time we have to deal with these kind of situations in a game. The referee should have handled this situation in a much better way."

On the other hand, Minnesota United conducted an independent investigation of the incident, concluding that the player denies any wrongdoing and released a statement following the league’s results. 

"Minnesota United FC unequivocally supports the principles of inclusion, equality and respect -- both in words and actions -- for our sport, our League, our community and our society," it read. "There is no place for racism, homophobia, or misogyny in any form. All individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

"We appreciate and fully supported the thorough investigation by MLS, whose findings mirror our own review of the situation. Our club remains committed to spreading the values inherent in the unparalleled global sport of soccer throughout our broader community. We will continue the hard work necessary on our shared journey towards a truly inclusive and just society."

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