Monday, October 3, 2022

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DC United’s Taxi Fountas denies racially abusing Inter Miami’s Damion Lowe

DC United player Taxi Fountas has taken to Instagram to deny allegations that he racially abused Inter Miami’s Damion Lowe in Sunday night’s MLS game.

MLS officials are investigating the allegations and Miami coach Phil Neville said “the worst word in the world” was used against Lowe.

Fountas wrote in a statement on Monday: “I did not use the word I am accused of using. This despicable racist slur is one that I denounce and have not used.

“We had a heated discussion on the field, but I didn’t racially insult anyone. I firmly reject racism in any form. It’s despicable.

“I have many friends from many cultures. I always respect each person’s culture, religion and skin color.

“I am therefore very upset by this allegation and sad to be falsely accused.”

The ugly altercation between the two took place in the 62nd minute of the MLS game when the duo shoved each other after Jamaica international Lowe was unhappy with the Greek’s challenge.

Lowe shouted back at Fountas after the alleged bow was used and referee Ismail Elfath then stopped play to speak to both captains.

Things then took an even more sinister turn in the following four minutes when former Manchester United team-mates Wayne Rooney – the DC manager – and Neville came together on the sidelines to speak to the official.

Neville then called his Inter Miami players together to discuss whether to continue playing as both players were subsequently booked.

Tensions between the two remained high and they had to be separated a second time, and after a five-minute break play eventually resumed.

DC United manager Rooney then decided to knock out Fountas – who had made it 2-2 minutes earlier – on the next ball off, with the 27-year-old being replaced by Miguel Berry.

Coach Neville said in his post-match press conference: “It was a racist comment which is unacceptable. The word that was used is not acceptable in society and is the worst word in the world.

“There is absolutely no place for racism on the football field. The owners agree 100 percent. I have to commend my players for staying calm.

“I have to commend the referee for a really difficult situation. He followed the protocols set out by MLS and I have to give Wayne Rooney a lot of credit for handling it the way he did.

“I’ve always known him as a class. In my estimation he rose more than for any goal he has ever scored. The players were injured and disappointed.

“I called the players to me because in my previous job at England we had a lot of experience of racism in certain countries.

“I know exactly how to deal with such situations. I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of my players as I was tonight.”

Inter Miami defender DeAndre Yedlin, meanwhile, confirmed the players were ready to leave the field after Neville’s clash, saying their win didn’t feel like one despite Gonzalo Higuain’s 94th-minute win .

“If nothing was done, we wouldn’t be going forward,” he said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t even feel like a win because of this incredibly dark moment.”

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