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MLS investigation into alleged racial slur inconclusive

May 9, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Chara (21) warms up before a match against the Seattle Sounders at Providence Park. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

An MLS investigation could not corroborate or refute claims from the Portland Timbers that a Minnesota United player used a racial slur toward forward Diego Chara in a game last month.

The investigation was opened immediately after the Timbers dropped a 1-0 decision to Minnesota United on July 26 at home. Play had been stopped in the 65th minute as a referee met with Chara, as well as multiple players from both teams.

Not included in that discussion was Minnesota United’s Franco Fragapane, who had just clashed on the field with Chara before play was stopped. Fragapane has reportedly denied using a racial slur during the game.

“MLS conducted a thorough review of the incident, which included interviews with the match official and players, as well as an examination of all available audio and video footage from the match,” the league said in a statement Monday. “While MLS found the allegation to be made in good faith, the League could not corroborate or refute the allegation.”

Also in the statement, MLS reiterated its stance against discrimination or harassment in order to foster a sense of “respect and inclusivity.”

“MLS mandates that all players complete annual Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Training, which takes place during the preseason,” the MLS statement said. “Clubs are required to ensure that all players who arrive after preseason complete such testing, and any players who have not done so must do so promptly. Clubs that do not comply with this policy will be subject to League fines.”

Chara, a native of Colombia, is known for his aggressive play, scoring 10 goals in 284 games with the Timbers since 2011. He became a naturalized United States citizen in 2019.

Minnesota United released its own statement Monday after MLS’s findings were revealed, saying the club “fully supported” the investigation.

“Minnesota United FC unequivocally supports the principles of inclusion, equality and respect — both in words and actions — for our support, our League, our community and our society,” the statement read, in part. “There is no place for racism, homophobia or misogyny in any form. All individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”

–Field Level Media