Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen has put the Major League Soccer franchise up for sale after being criticised for failing to support players calling for racial justice.
Hansen said he felt “disrespected” by team members after they opted not to play against LAFC on Wednesday.
Those players joined in the widespread protests which have followed the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, by police in Wisconsin.
“All I can say is they supported other issues nationally; they clearly did not support our city or our organisation,” Hansen said.
“It’s a moment of sadness. It’s like somebody stabbed you and you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward. That’s what it feels like. The disrespect is profound to me personally.”
Hansen warned he would start cutting employees he had brought back from furlough because of the possibility of further strike action from the team, with his stance drawing condemnation.
Salt Lake’s former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha told BBC World Service: “I don’t want to be here because I’m not here to play for someone who isn’t here to support us.”
— MLS Communications (@MLS_PR) August 30, 2020
A statement from MLS commissioner Don Garber on Sunday confirmed Hansen had put the team’s holding company up for sale, suggesting Onuoha and his team-mates might not have to work under their current owner for much longer.
His stewardship of National Women’s Soccer League team Utah Royals and Real Monarchs of the USL Championship is also set to come to a close.
Garber’s statement read: “Major League Soccer has been informed that Real Salt Lake investor-operator Dell Loy Hansen has decided that he will begin a process to sell Utah Soccer Holdings, the entity that owns Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC and Real Monarchs.
“MLS will work with Mr Hansen on supporting the sale efforts for the company and will work closely with the club’s executive staff to support the operations of the team during the transition period.”
Garber added: “I want to acknowledge Dell Loy Hansen’s significant efforts to build the sport of soccer in the state of Utah and his commitment to Major League Soccer.”
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