The New York Red Bulls and forward Dante Wanziel on Monday apologized for the “unacceptable incident” that occurred during Saturday’s game against San Jose, in which Vanzer made racist remarks.
In a statement, the club said, “Words and omissions are unacceptable and we believe they will never be tolerated. We will always strive for an inclusive and anti-racist environment.” Our organization is committed to providing resources to further educate our players and staff and rebuilding trust within our community.”
Van Zeil acknowledged his “mistakes” in a separate statement released by the Red Bulls on Monday and said he agreed with the suspensions, fines and counseling imposed by Major League Soccer and the team.
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Van Zea said. “I never meant to cause harm or discomfort with my words, but I know I did and I deeply apologize for it. We will look back on our time and efforts and dedicate ourselves to working with organizations to stand up against racial injustice.”
The incident, which MLS is investigating, appears to have occurred when players gathered around referee Ismir Pekmich following a foul by Judson. Earthquake centre-back Jonathan Mensah quickly turned to the referee and pointed at Van Zea, while forward Jeremy Evovis started pushing and screaming at Van Zea, but Van Zea was pulled away by Sean Neelis. Later, Vanzeir and his Ebobisse were seen talking.
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The game was paused for 20 minutes as players, referees and coaches appeared to discuss the incident. After all, the game was restarted.
“What we saw tonight shouldn’t be part of the game,” Evovis said at the post-match press conference. It ended with the use of discriminatory adjectives.”
“I strongly suggested that this player should not be on the field anymore,” said San Jose manager Luti Gonzalez.
Play resumed in the 73rd minute and finally Vanzeir was substituted in the 86th minute. The Red Bulls scored the equalizing goal in the 17th minute of injury time 21 minutes.
Red Bulls manager Gerhard Struber also issued a statement on Monday, explaining his decision to keep Vanzier in the game.
“We made decisions that we thought were the best given the information we had at the time,” Struber said. “There was a lot of uncertainty at the time, but with the information I have now, removing Dante Vanzeil from the game immediately would have been the right decision.”
(Photo: Vincent Carchietta/USA Today)