Dave Kaval, president of the United States soccer team Earthquakes, took a hard line Monday in the aftermath of an anti-gay slur made by striker Alan Gordon in an incident that raises the issue of intolerance in sports.
Kaval said he was “appalled by the use of the hurtful language” Sunday night during the Quakes’ 1-0 defeat to the host Portland Timbers.
“We let the fans of the Earthquakes down by having a player do that,” Kaval added.
Gordon, 31, faces a possible three-game suspension by Major League Soccer, which has a zero-tolerance policy against such comments. League officials, expected to make an announcement in the coming days, elected not to comment until action is taken.
Kaval said he had talked to Gordon, who understands he will suffer consequences for his action.
“Alan’s comments do not reflect the views or beliefs of our organization,” Kaval said. “We have always promoted an atmosphere of acceptance and equality in our stadium and amongst our diverse and passionate fans.”
Kaval said that the team and league were working quickly to take action particularly in light of the sport’s image in Europe, where racism has been pervasive.
Gordon released a statement through the team about 90 minutes after the game Sunday night.
“I sincerely apologize for what I said in our game tonight,” it read. “Although I said it in the heat of the moment, that language has no place in our game. That is not my character, but there is still no excuse for saying what I said. I made a mistake, and I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
Gordon’s comments directed at the Timbers’ Will Johnson come just months after 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver made headlines at the Super Bowl when he said that he could not play with a gay teammate. Culliver received training last month from a group that provides crisis intervention for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, a Trevor Project spokeswoman said Monday.