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Neville praises Rooney for handling of alleged racist incident

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Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville praised Wayne Rooney for how his counterpart handled an alleged racist incident involving a D.C. United player.

Neville said D.C. United forward Taxi Fountas directed a racist comment toward Inter defender Damion Lowe after a heated altercation in the second half of Sunday's contest at Audi Field in Washington. The scuffle delayed the game for several minutes.

Neville and Rooney, who are former Manchester United teammates, met with the referee to discuss the incident. Rooney then removed Fountas from the game.

"A word was used that I think is unacceptable in society," Neville told reporters post-match Sunday, according to The Guardian. "I think it's the worst word in the world. There is no place at all for racism on a football field or society.

"I must commend my players for keeping their calm, I must commend the referee - (in) a really difficult situation he followed the protocols set out by the MLS - and I must give massive, massive respect to Wayne Rooney for dealing with it in the way that he did. I have always known him as a class act, and today, he went up in my estimation more than he has ever done, more than any goal he has ever scored."

MLS launched an investigation into the matter.

"MLS has zero tolerance for abusive and offensive language, and we take these allegations very seriously," a league spokesperson said.

Inter Miami forward DeAndre Yedlin said he and his teammates would've abandoned the game if the incident wasn't addressed.

Fountas has since denied using racist language.

"I did not use the word I am being accused of using," he said in a statement on Instagram. "That despicable racial slur is one I denounce and did not use.

"We had a hot discussion on the field. But I have not racially abused anyone. I firmly reject racism in any form. It is despicable ... I always respect the culture, religion, and skin color of each person. I am therefore very upset by this accusation and saddened to be falsely accused."

Fountas scored for D.C. moments before his alleged comments. Inter Miami won the match 3-2.

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