Real Salt Lake was one of the MLS teams that refused to play on Wednesday night, part of a boycott that crossed leagues, including NBA, WNBA, and MLB. Their refusal to play stemmed as a response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot in the back seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
On Thursday, Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen gave an interview to a local radio show in which he said the team’s refusal to play showed “disrespect was profound to me, personally.”
He went on to say that “it’s taken a lot of wind out of my sails on how much I want to invest in the team…buying players and building the team.”
Hansen also seemed to suggest that the protest would lead to him not inviting fans back to the stadium, and would force him to furlough and fire people … again. (He already furloughed staff during the start of the pandemic.)
Pro athletes across Utah and the rest of MLS spoke out quickly and forcefully against Hansen.
Perhaps most stunningly, Toronto FC and USMNT striker Jozy Altidore said that if Hansen wasn’t willing to invest in the team, he had an ownership group ready to buy the team … now.
Altidore wasn’t the only professional athlete to speak out against Hansen. Both Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley Jr. of the Utah Jazz tweeted about it, with Mitchell reiterating that Hansen should sell the team.
MLS may find itself in a tough position here. Hansen has owned the team since 2013, and while I doubt they’d push him out after one interview, if he’s publicly posturing that he will not invest in the team nor try to make them better, that’s a problem for the product they’re trying to put out.
As to whether or not Altidore has a group ready to buy an MLS side, I wouldn’t doubt it. We can argue about MLS’ long term longevity, but people with money want in on this league while it’s still growing.
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“He needs to sell the team,” said Jozy Altidore. “I’m involved in a group that’s ready to purchase it. Time for change.”
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