MLS can’t verify Taxi Fountas used slur; calls allegation ‘credible’

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D.C. United star Taxi Fountas will not face discipline from MLS after a league investigation found no conclusive evidence that he racially abused an opponent during a Sept. 18 game at Audi Field.

The league said Monday that Miami defenseman Aimee Mabika’s allegation was “credible” but could not be “independently verified.” MLS also said, “It found Fountas’s claim unbelievable that he didn’t say anything at the time — discriminatory or otherwise. The video of the incident clearly shows Mabika reacting suddenly to something he believes he heard from Fountas.

As part of the investigation, the league said, it interviewed several people and reviewed video and audio recordings, but was unable to determine “what Fountas said at that moment.”

Mabika has accused Fountas of using the n-word during an incident with Damian Lowe in the second half. Lowe, a Jamaican, and Mabika, a Zambian, are black. Fountas, who is Greek, is white.

Miami refused to play again unless Fountas was ejected from the game. United coach Wayne Rooney obliged.

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“I did not use the word that I am accused of using,” Fountas wrote in an Instagram post a day later. “I condemn that despicable racial slur and it is one that is not used. We had a heated conversation on the field. But I have not discriminated against anyone. I strongly reject racism of any kind. It’s disgusting. “

Judge Ismail Elfath told a reserve reporter at the time that no officer had heard any racist or abusive language, and a video review revealed nothing.

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As previously scheduled, Fountas then went to Greece to play twice for his national team. He was scheduled to return stateside for the final two MLS games of the season, but due to stress from Fountas and his family, Rooney granted him extra time off.

Fountas, United’s lone star pick, is contracted through the 2024 season. This year, he has scored a team-high 12 goals and added three assists in 21 games.

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In a statement, United officials said they “appreciate and accept the findings of the league’s investigation and, after several interviews with people involved in and around the incident, conclude that the action in question cannot be confirmed.”

MLS interviewed Fountas at least twice, people familiar with the investigation said, and contacted Black United’s Christian Benteke and Raval Morrison. Both were on the field at the time of the incident. Several Miami players were also interviewed.

Fountas was not available for comment Monday, but someone who spoke to him said the player was “relieved and eager to return.” Miami officials did not immediately comment.

MLS said it is re-examining its policies and practices regarding allegations of abuse and discrimination.

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In a separate investigation, MLS announced that United had been fined $25,000 for violating the league’s diversity hiring policy before the club hired Rooney in July. A first offense carries a fine of up to $50,000.

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As part of updated guidelines established in December, interview teams require two candidates from underrepresented groups, including one black candidate, for technical staff jobs such as coach and general manager. (Previous rules mandated one candidate from each of those groups.)

Starting with a list of at least five candidates, United spoke with a black and a Latino coach — both from overseas, a person close to the situation said — but neither of those conversations could be considered a “final squad” interview. ” said the league.

One candidate, United said in a statement, went through the same process as the others. However, the club added, he later told team officials he wasn’t interested in a job that started mid-season.

“After learning this, the club focused on the remaining finalists,” United said.

However, the league said, “United was obligated to bring an additional candidate from an underrepresented team into the ‘final match pool’ or request a waiver from MLS detailing attrition circumstances that would not allow them to do so.”


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