Wayne Rooney has been hailed by former England team-mate Phil Neville for his handling of an alleged racism incident that threatened to halt an MLS game between their teams.
The game between DC United, managed by Rooney, and Neville’s Inter Miami – owned by David Beckham – was halted when United striker Taxi Fountas was accused of racially abusing Inter defender Damion Lowe.
After Rooney and Neville, who played for both Manchester United and internationally, held talks with referee Ismail Elfath, Rooney replaced Fountas and the action continued.
“There was one racist comment that was unacceptable,” Neville said.
“A word was used that I think is unacceptable in society. I think it’s the worst word in the world.
“I have to give Wayne Rooney a huge, huge credit for handling it the way he did. I’ve always known him as a class and today I think he’s risen more than ever, more than any goal he’s ever scored.
Just before the hour mark, Fountas engaged in a skirmish with Lowe where the alleged incident occurred.
Miami players had been talking about leaving the field before Rooney and Neville intervened.
“If nothing had been done we wouldn’t be going forward,” confirmed Miami’s DeAndre Yedlin, once of Tottenham and Newcastle. The MLS is investigating the matter.
Neither Elfath nor the other officers are said to have heard the alleged remark, while the events being investigated were also reviewed by VAR.
An MLS spokesman said: “MLS does not tolerate abusive and abusive language and we take these allegations very seriously. An investigation into this matter will be launched immediately.
A statement from DC United added: “DC United are aware of the allegations involving a player during the game against Inter Miami. The club will work closely with Major League Soccer and Inter Miami to investigate the incident.