The National Women’s Soccer League announced Saturday that it has identified and banned the individual who made racist comments toward a Portland Thorns player at a recent Utah Royals FC home game.
The Royals initially issued a lifetime ban of the fan from all events at Rio Tinto Stadium, per a club spokesperson. The ban was supported by the league and then extended to all other NWSL matches, the spokesperson said.
“NWSL will not tolerate inappropriate behavior,” the league said in a statement on Twitter. “Racism has no place in our sport.”
During Utah’s 1-0 win over Portland, reports surfaced on social media that a fan in Section 15 of Rio Tinto Stadium was making racist comments to Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, who is black. The team was informed and attempted to locate the fan in question — and sent additional security to the area — to no avail initially.
But the subsequent investigation revealed who the fan was.
“Thanks in no small part to assistance from fans seated in the vicinity, the fan has since been identified and the club has issued a lifetime ban to the offending party,” the Royals said in a statement. “The ban applies to all events at Rio Tinto Stadium and Zions Bank Stadium.”
Both teams launched an investigation soon afterward and released statements condemning the fan’s alleged comments. Several players around the league, including Utah’s Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn, made public statements about the incident. Franch addressed it two days after it happened.
“The situation surrounding our game Friday night is not a NEW issue, nor is it a first for me,” Franch wrote on Twitter. “RACISM is NOT okay in any form!! We as a HUMAN RACE can be better and should be better. We as a SPORT can help show the way.”