Royals investigate claim fan yelled racist comments at Thorns goalkeeper

United States goalkeepers Adrianna Franch, left, and Alyssa Naeher celebrate after winning the Women's World Cup semifinal soccer match against England, at the Stade de Lyon outside Lyon, France, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. A fan has been accused by a Twitter user of yelling a racial slur at Franch, the goalkeeper of the Portland Thorns, during Friday's loss to Utah Royals FC at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The Utah Royals FC and the Portland Thorns are investigating allegations of a fan yelling racist comments at Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch during Utah’s 1-0 victory Friday.

The allegations surfaced on social media after a Twitter user claimed hearing a fan in Section 15 call Franch, who is black, “the N word” and “ugly.” The initial Tweet containing that specific allegation has since been deleted.

The user did not respond to a request for comment or clarification from The Salt Lake Tribune.

The Royals and Thorns each made statements on Twitter condemning the alleged actions, saying “racism in any form is unacceptable.”

Utah forward Christen Press, who is black, defended the Royals organization and also condemned racism as a whole.

“I play for a team and fans that I love,” Press said on Twitter. “Acts of racism and hate hurt everyone. This club stands for equality. What we won’t accept from any fan is racism or discrimination at any level.”

Captain Becky Sauerbrunn also spoke out on Twitter about the incident.

“This is totally unacceptable,” Sauerbrunn wrote. “There is NO place for racism in our game or anywhere, EVER.”

When the incident was first reported on social media, the official Twitter account of the Royals responded, requesting that fans point out the alleged offender so that he could be removed, and extra security appears to have been sent to the area.

The person, however, was never identified. The user who first reported the incident said the fan said nothing more after security arrived to the area.

Pete Busche, a season ticket holder who has attended the majority of URFC games this season and sits in Section 16, told The Tribune that he heard people in Section 15 yelling at Franch during goal kicks. While he noted that he had never heard as much yelling at an opposing goalie as occurred Friday, he said he did not personally hear any racist comments toward Franch.

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