BREAKING NEWS: Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir SUSPENDED for six games

New York Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir is SUSPENDED by MLS for six games – set to miss the US Open Cup fourth round – and fined after racist remark during San Jose game

  • Vanzeir admitted to making racist comments in a statement released Monday 
  • He has also been fined an undisclosed amount and mandated to take training 
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New York Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir has been suspended by Major League Soccer for six regular season games for the use of racist language.

Vanzeir admitted to using racial slurs during a confrontation with the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend. 

His words led to a lengthy stoppage as referees decided whether or not to red card Vanzeir or whether or not to continue the match. Referees gave 21 minutes of stoppage time as a result of the pause in action.

The club announced on Tuesday that Vanzeir would be stepping away from the team ‘until further notice’ after speaking to his teammates. 

According to a press release, Vanzeir will be prohibited from participating in U.S. Open Cup, MLS NEXT PRO and exhibition matches until the end of the suspension.

New York Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir has been suspended by MLS for six games

The league has also fined Vanzeir for an undisclosed sum and will require him to participate in additional League-mandated training and education sessions.

MLS says it is working with both the Red Bulls and San Jose as well as the MLS Players Association to, ‘provide impacted players and staff with support and resources and is committed to continuing to review and improve its in-game protocol.’ 

The Red Bulls released a series of statements on Monday – including one from the club and statements on behalf of Vanzeir and manager Gerhard Struber.

‘I accept full responsibility for my actions,’ began Vanzeir’s statement. ‘While I did not intend to cause any harm or offense with my language, I know that I did and for that I am deeply sorry. I will agree to any suspension, fine and counseling that is handed down by Major League Soccer and the club.

‘I will use this opportunity to better myself, reflect and dedicate my time and efforts to work with organizations that tackle racial injustice.’ 

The club’s statement directly apologized for the incident, calling the words and the inaction ‘inexcusable’.

‘The New York Red bulls wholeheartedly apologize for the unacceptable events that transpired on Saturday night during the match with the San Jose Earthquakes,’ it read. ‘The words and inaction was inexcusable, and we believe there is never a place for it.

‘We always strive for an environment that is inclusive and anti-racist. Our organization is committed to providing the resources to further educate our players and staff, as well as rebuilding trust within our community.’

The New York Red Bulls and forward Dante Vanzeir apologized for the player’s remarks

Despite pleas to take Vanzeir off from opposing players and managers, New York Red Bulls boss Gerhard Struber kept the Belgian on the field until the 87′, when he was substituted

The statement the club released on Struber’s behalf did not include the words ‘apology’ or ‘sorry’, despite inaction being directly addressed in his club’s statement. 

As the incident occurred, and the lengthy stoppage continued, Earthquakes head coach Luchi Gonzalez said he, ‘was adamant to suggest that the player should not be on the field anymore.’ 

Despite this, Vanzeir was not taken off the field until the 87th minute.

Struber’s statement read: ‘During our match on Saturday, I made a decision that I thought was best given the information I had at that moment. 

‘While there was a lot of uncertainty at the time, with the information that I now know, the right decision would have been to immediately remove Dante Vanzeir from the game.’

The statement from manager Gerhard Struber didn’t include any form of an apology

In recent days, fans from the club have been repeatedly calling for Struber to be sacked as a result of not only his inaction on this issue, but what they believe is his lack of accountability. 

Leaders of the three supporters groups that make up the ‘South Ward’ at Red Bull Arena say they met with leaders in the Red Bulls front office including club general manager Marc de Grandpre and sporting director Jochen Schneider as well as Vanzeir and Struber.

According to one account of the meeting, some members believed that Vanzeir was ‘sincere and honest with his apology’ when speaking to supporters. 

Meanwhile, that same account of the events claimed that the leadership ‘definitely felt less than satisfied with what Struber had to say and the way in which he said it,’ with that recollection adding, ‘His explanation and apology seemed like it didn’t have much behind it. We did not feel he truly believed he was wrong or made a mistake.’

The Red Bulls play the Houston Dynamo at home this Saturday evening. 

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