Philadelphia Union defenseman Kai Wagner of the New England Revolution has filed a complaint with Major League Soccer for allegedly using a racial slur against Revs forward Bobby Wood, and MLS is reviewing the allegations, multiple sources said. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the situation.
The New England Revolution declined to comment. The Philadelphia Union could not be reached for comment. Major League Soccer released the following statement.
“MLS is aware of an allegation that a player used discriminatory language towards an opposing player, and a review of the matter is underway. The league is working with the MLS Players Association and Black Players for Change to resolve the ongoing allegations and will have no further comment pending the review.
The complaint said the incident occurred in the closing moments of New England’s opening-round playoff game against the Union on Sunday night. The game was generally tense and in the 87th minute Revolution striker Giacomo Vrioni fouled Union defender Natan Hariel for which he was shown a yellow card. As the play was reviewed by the video assistant referee for a possible red card, broadcast footage showed several other players, including Wagner and Wood, exchanging words on both sides.
The German Wagner is suspected of making abusive remarks against the German Wood at the time, the sources said. Wood speaks German, and spent the first decade of his professional career and several years as a youth player in Germany. The Revolution’s players and coaches alerted match officials to the alleged insult and the incident was noted in referee Pierre-Luc Lauzier’s post-match report, sources said.
Wagner’s alleged insults against Wood have historically been aimed at Asians, the sources said. Wood is a Japanese and African American species.
This is not the first time major league soccer has been racially abused this year. In July, DC United forward Taxi Fauntas was accused of racially abusing teammate Nigel Roberta. The league’s investigation — not Faunta’s first — was never concluded as Fauntas and United mutually agreed to terminate the contract. Earlier in the season, New York Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzire was suspended for six games for using a racial slur on the field against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Wagner, 26, is in the final year of his contract with the Union and looks set to leave the club at the end of this year. He has shown interest from clubs in Germany and England. In the year He has been a vital part of the association’s success in recent years, having made the All-Star team in 2021 and 2022. He was also a 2022 MLS Best XI pick. Earning $630,000, Wagner has made it clear that he and the union are reluctant to increase his compensation.
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