Taxi Fountas accused of using racial slurs during the DC United loss

Taxi Fountas accused of using racial slurs during the DC United loss

Taxi Fountas accused of using racial slurs during the DC United loss

On a night when DC United conceded a stoppage-time winner in a 3-2 loss to Inter Miami at Audi Field, the late collapse was overshadowed by something much uglier.

After a second-half exchange Sunday between United forward Taxi Fountas and Miami defender Damion Lowe resulted in a long delay, both players were yellow cards and Fountas was replaced immediately, Miami coach Phil Neville said the clash was due to the use of racial slur.

“A word was used that I think is unacceptable in society,” Neville said. “A word was used that I think is the worst word in the world.”

Miami defenseman DeAndre Yedlin said Lowe walked away after a fight with Fountas when “the guy called him the n-word” and teammate Aimé Mabika reacted angrily. Lowe and Mabika are black. Yedlin said Miami decided “not to proceed until something is done with that player.”

Fountas, who scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season moments before, was not made available for comment amid an investigation by the club, MLS and the Professional Referee Organization, a club spokesman said. Judge Ismail Elfath told a pool reporter that no official had heard racist or abusive language and that none was detected via video review.

“The referee came over and spoke to me and Phil and there was a complaint, which I’m sure will be investigated,” United manager Wayne Rooney said. “So there’s not much more I can say.”

In a statement, United said: “DC United is aware of the allegations involving a player during the match against Inter Miami CF. The club will work closely with Major League Soccer and Inter Miami to investigate the incident.”

“MLS has zero tolerance for offensive and offensive language and we take these allegations very seriously,” the league said in a statement. “An investigation into this matter will begin immediately.”

Spirit beats Gotham FC, after the season’s hopes have been dashed a short while later

Six weeks after United made Christian Benteke the most expensive player in the club’s history, Rooney finally had an opportunity to deploy his prize summer signing alongside Fountas, the club’s lone all-star who had missed Benteke’s first four games with concussion.

Sure enough, Benteke and Fountas found the net on Sunday. But Miami got a pair of goals from Leonardo Campana and, after Fountas exited, a halftime winner from Gonzalo Higuaín.

For a last-place DC team (7-19-6) that had failed to score in eight of its last 10 games, the offense was welcome. However, Fountas’ comeback was soured by the allegation, as was the decisive victory for a Miami team in the middle of a playoff run.

“It makes a really nice moment for us a little dark,” said Yedlin, a member of the Black Players for Change group in MLS. “This is something I’ve been open about my whole career, so it’s really unfortunate to see it live.”

Benteke opened his DC scoring account in the 22nd minute. United midfielder Chris Durkin curled a one-time drive into the box which the Belgian striker headed home at the far post.

Miami (12-13-6) pulled even in the 39th after Campana’s scrappy finish during a goal game, then took the lead in the 53rd when the Ecuadorian forward again finished from close range.

Fountas pulled United level four minutes later. Miami cleared a DC free kick to the top of the box, where the Greek forward launched a one-time volley that took a healthy deflection on its way in.

But the ensuing delay, in which Elfath stopped to face Rooney and Neville several times, and Fountas’ 66th-minute substitution halted any momentum from United’s equaliser.

“We tried to apply pressure,” Benteke said. “With that break, it just slowed the game down.”

Both teams pushed for a winner before Miami broke through on a counterattack in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Indiana Vassilev touched a pass outside to Yedlin, whose low cross was headed in by Higuaín.

“It doesn’t even feel like a win,” Yedlin said. “Now we’ll see what MLS does with it [the accusation]. My eyes will be on it a lot. It is now up to them to take action and take a stand and show that this not only has no place in the game, but no place in society.”

Here’s what else you should know about DC United’s defeat:

FIFA keeps Ecuador in the World Cup field, and rejects demands from rivals

Ex-England teammates meet

The match was the first meeting between Rooney and Neville since Rooney took over as United manager in July. They were teammates at Manchester United in 2004-05 and with the England national team from 2003 to 2007.

Neville praised Rooney for his decision to remove Fountas from the game.

“I have to give massive, massive respect to Wayne Rooney for dealing with it the way he did,” said Neville. “I’ve always known him as a class act. I think today he went up in my estimation more than he ever did, more than any goal he ever scored.”

International break looms

United have next weekend off as most of MLS goes on hiatus for the final international window before the World Cup in Qatar, as national teams fine-tune tactics and get a final look at players before submitting rosters. DC visits CF Montreal on Oct. 1 before hosting FC Cincinnati on Oct. 9 to close out the season.

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