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MLS players demand suspension of RSL owner over racism allegations

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Warning: Story contains coarse language

The MLS Players Association demanded Thursday that Major League Soccer suspend Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen following allegations of racism published by The Athletic.

MLS released a statement shortly after, promising to "immediately commence an investigation" into the matter.

"The allegations in tonight's Athletic story concerning RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen are sickening," read the MLSPA statement. "The MLSPA calls upon MLS to immediately suspend Hansen and conduct a thorough investigation. If the allegations are substantiated, he must be forced to sell the team."

Hansen also owns the Utah Royals, who compete in the National Women's Soccer League. The NWSL's players union is also demanding "action must be taken" if Hansen is guilty of the allegations against him.

Andy Williams, a Black former Real Salt Lake head scout from 2011 until his furlough earlier this year, told The Athletic Hansen is a "f------ racist." Williams said Hansen used the term "lynch" in front of Kellyn Acosta - a Black midfielder who was playing for FC Dallas - and also used the n-word twice during a conversation with the RSL equipment manager.

Acosta's agent at the time, Daren Flitcroft, said he witnessed the former incident. An unnamed source supported the latter description of Hansen's racist behavior.

Another source told The Athletic the team owner made racist comments during contract negotiations with Albert Rusnak, a White player from Slovakia, and his representative Aidy Ward, a Black man who founded agency Colossal Sports. Former RSL defender Aaron Maund - who is Black - also recalled Hansen commenting that he thought the player was a "thug" when Maund put up his hood to try to maintain some anonymity in an elevator at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Before The Athletic published its story, Hansen sparked controversy earlier Thursday for remarks about the Real Salt Lake players' protest against racial inequality and police brutality. He expressed his sentiments to Salt Lake City radio station X96, which he owns.

"The disrespect is profound to me, personally," Hansen said of the players' decision not to play Wednesday's match against Los Angeles FC.

"We're all sitting here at an organization trying to build support and love around a team that supports the city. All I can say is they supported other issues nationally," he continued. "They clearly did not support our city or organization. That's fairly clear."

The real estate magnate added that the players' walkout "took the wind out of" his desire to invest in the club, prompting Toronto FC's Jozy Altidore to reveal on Twitter that he's part of a group that's ready to purchase the franchise from Hansen. "Time for change," the striker tweeted.

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