Coach Giovanni Savarese said the Portland Timbers are in full support of midfielder Diego Chara following an alleged racist comment during a Major League Soccer game on Saturday.
The match, which the Timbers lost 1-0 to Minnesota United, was stopped in the 65th minute because of the alleged incident.
The Pioneer Press reported that referee Rosendo Mendoza spoke with Timbers captain Diego Valeri and Chara, as well as United captain Michael Boxall and Wil Trapp. It reported that Franco Fragapane, who had clashed with Chara moments earlier, was kept away from the situation by teammates.
The referee then resumed the game with no further action being taken, although TV pictures showed fourth official Baldomero Toledo talking to United coach Adrian Heath while the game continued.
In his postmatch news conference, Savarese said he was upset at the way it was handled and said the Timbers stood by Chara, who is Black and a native of Colombia.
“I am very and extremely disappointed that still at this time we have to deal with situations that should not be happening anymore or in any sport or anywhere,” he said. “It’s things that are not acceptable and in this game there was a situation that had to do with a racist situation. A discriminatory word that has been said to one of our players that cannot have any place in anywhere or in any situation or any sport, nowhere.
“So, I’m extremely disappointed that still at this time we have to deal with these kind of situations in a game. The referee should have handled this situation in a much better way.
“We are all in support of Diego Chara, but what happened to him today, the discriminatory word that was said to him, should not have a place anywhere at this time and I am extremely disappointed that it was not taken as seriously as it should have been. The whole team, myself, the whole organization, is with Diego Chara in this situation that happened on the field today.”
Minnesota United issued a statement to ESPN on Sunday saying the team was aware of the accusations.
“The team has been investigating the matter and the player involved in the reported incident has denied making any derogatory remarks,” the statement read.
“We will support the league in any investigation it chooses to make around the alleged event.
“MNUFC is built on inclusivity and respect, and does not tolerate discrimination under any circumstance.”
In a statement, MLS said: “Major League Soccer is aware of the alleged incident that occurred during the Portland Timbers and Minnesota United match last night. MLS has zero tolerance for abusive and offensive language, and we take these allegations very seriously. An investigation into this matter has already begun. Further information will be provided upon completion of that investigation.”