New Mexico United released a statement Sunday after allegations of verbal racial abuse directed at Loudoun United players during Saturday’s match at Isotopes Park.
“We take these allegations incredibly seriously, and will conduct a full investigation in collaboration with the United Soccer League,” part of the statement read.
New Mexico United’s director of communication and fan experience David Carl said there will be strict punishment if the allegations prove to be true.
“We got a heads up (Sunday morning) from the league that a Loudoun United player or players, we don’t know which players or how many, alleged some fan or fans did some sort of racial abuse,” Carl said. “We don’t know what was said or who it was directed at. Regardless, it’s unacceptable. It’s not something that we’ll tolerate or stand for. We’re going to do an investigation alongside the USL and if we figure out who said what and it did actually happen, the individual or individuals will receive a lifetime ban. It’s unacceptable.”
Also in United’s statement was a message about not throwing items at referees, players, coaches or other individuals.
R.J. Montaño, co-founder of The Curse, confirmed something was thrown at the referee.
“I saw someone throw a beer can at the ref when they were walking out after the match,” Montaño said. “That happened for sure but I didn’t hear anything about the racial stuff going on at all. It’s kind of a surprising statement. Everyone was upset about the flow of the game and the officiating. It was a frustrating match.”
New Mexico United’s Austin Yearwood received a controversial red card in the 24th minute of NMU’s 1-0 loss to Loudoun Saturday and coach Troy Lesesne was also sent off after receiving his second yellow card in the 86th minute. New Mexico United also had a goal waved off for an offside call and there was an apparent hand ball by Loudoun in stoppage time that was not called.
Lesesne was not available for the media on Sunday.
Carl said New Mexico United is appealing Yearwood’s red card, which brings with it a three-game suspension, but will not appeal Lesesne’s.
As fans have returned to sporting events, bad behavior has followed. In the NBA, Russell Westbrook had popcorn dumped on him by a fan in Philadelphia on his way to the locker room. Fans in Utah were ejected after harassing Ja Morant’s parents. Spectators in New York went from taunting Trae Young to one actually spitting at the Hawks point guard.
The USL said it will investigate allegations that a New York Red Bulls II player was subjected to racial abuse during a match at Loudoun on May 18. Racism in soccer has become an epidemic in Europe, but no reports of incidents or allegations in Albuquerque.
“The Curse has worked so hard to keep that out of the stadium and out of the sport in general,” Montaño said. “There’s a lot of problems in soccer worldwide but here in Albuquerque we’re trying to change that and make things more positive for all fans. We want to change the culture around soccer. If they find somebody who did this, they need a lifetime ban.”