Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen will take a leave of absence from the Major League Soccer club’s operations amid investigations into allegations that he used racist language.
Hansen, who also owns United Soccer League club Real Monarchs and National Women’s Soccer League side Utah Royals, has also come under criticism after comments about MLS players not playing Wednesday as they sought to denounce racial injustice. Hansen expressed his dissatisfaction with the players’ actions, calling it a sign of “disrespect” and saying it made him question “how much I want to invest in the team.”
In a statement released late Friday, Utah Soccer said: “As MLS and NWSL commence their investigations, Utah Soccer will ensure full cooperation, including seeking to answer any questions the leagues may have about the statements made by Mr. Hansen regarding athlete boycotts and allegations in a resulting article. As an organization, our priority is our employees, our teams, our players, and our fans, and Mr. Hansen in particular cares deeply for each of these individuals who works so hard to make Utah Soccer the success that it is.
“During the pendency of these investigations, and until further notice, Mr. Hansen will be taking a leave of absence from all RSL, URFC, and Monarchs operations. The existing Soccer Executive Group at Utah Soccer will assume all management of the organization.”
The allegations of racist remarks were detailed in a report by The Athletic on Thursday, prompting MLS to open an investigation.
The story quoted former employees and others who said Hansen had made a number of racially insensitive comments and used a racial slur, both leagues said they would conduct investigations.
“We are deeply concerned about the allegations made in a report published this evening concerning language used by and the conduct of Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen. Major League Soccer has zero tolerance for this type of language or conduct and will immediately commence an investigation,” the league said following the report.
The NWSL stated: “The allegations regarding Dell Loy Hansen contained in published reports are shocking and run counter to everything the NWSL stands for. We will immediately begin an investigation, and if these reports are substantiated, take appropriate actions.”
Hansen backtracked on his initial comments about the protests and said, “The players’ intentions were probably misinterpreted on my side,” but he has not made any comment regarding the allegations of racist language.
Hansen initially joined the RSL ownership group in 2009, spending three years as a minority partner before acquiring full ownership of the team in 2013.