RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen says he feels ‘disrespected’ by his players following game postponement


    The morning after Real Salt Lake and LAFC decided to not play their scheduled game Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen responded with what he described as “profound disappointment.”

    Speaking on the local show “Radio From Hell,” Hansen said the boycott of the game went against what the RSL stands for, which is a sense of community building and family. He likened the team’s decision to a backstabbing.

    “It’s a moment of sadness,” Hansen said. “It’s like someone stabbed you and then you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward. That’s what it feels like. The disrespect was profound to me personally.”

    RSL and LAFC decided about an hour before kickoff Wednesday not to play their game to show solidarity with other sports leagues, including the NBA, WNBA and some MLB teamns, which had done the same in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. Earlier Wednesday, it appeared that Major League Soccer teams would continue with their games.

    But as postponements throughout sports continued to get announced, that quickly changed. Five of the six scheduled MLS games Wednesday weren’t played.

    RSL Chief Business Officer Andy Carroll, who also appeared on the Broadway Media radio show, said he heard from some disappointed fans who traveled long distances to attend the RSL game. He apologized to them for the game’s postponement.

    “People were really looking forward to it,” Carroll said. “So that was really disappointing and we apologize to our fans and to our sponsors and to our staff that we were not able to have a game.”

    Hansen was emphatic when he spoke about how much preparation went into getting Rio Tinto Stadium as a point where it could safely host 5,000 fans. It would have been the first time since March that RSL would have spectators.

    Hansen also said RSL was “fully prepared” to play the game against LAFC and seemed to suggest that it was pressure from the Los Angeles team and other sports leagues that swayed the players’ thinking. Nedum Onuoha and Zac MacMath, however, said Wednesday that discussions about a possible boycott started hours before RSL arrived to the stadium.

    As an apparent response to the game’s boycott, Hansen said he’ll be rolling back some of the decisions he’s made recently, including bringing back 40 employees that had been furloughed in April due to the suspension of the MLS season.

    “We will not be inviting fans back to the stadium in the future, so tomorrow … I start cutting 40 to 50 jobs again,” Hansen said. “We would not go through the risk of inviting people back to have that kind of an outcome.”

    “It’s taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team,” Hansen said. “It just seems that’s not a very good path to take.”

    Fans, former players and and other high profile athletes decried Hansen’s comments. RSL legend Nick Rimando said on Twitter that he was “disgusted” by what Hansen said.

    “Wow just wow! I can’t even right now,” Rimando wrote. “@realsaltlake locker room, fans, and front office that stand for equality, human rights, and the fight against racism I applaud you. I am disgusted by DLH comments. This is more than a game.”

    Wow just wow! I can’t even right now. @realsaltlake locker room, fans, and front office that stand for equality, human rights, and the fight against racism I applaud you. I am disgusted by DLH comments. This is more than a game.

    Other athletes called for Hansen to sell the team, including Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Toronto FC player Jozy Altidore said on Twitter that he is involved with a group looking to buy RSL.

    WOW… if it’s taken “the wind” out then sell the team… I stand with @realsaltlake players ✊??

    He needs to sell the team then. I’m involved in a group that’s ready to purchase it. Time for change.

    Hansen said he supports “an inclusive, fairly liberal agenda.” In the same breath, he seemed to suggest supporting that agenda has unintended consequences.

    “Maybe that agenda has gotten so far that we’re punishing all sides of society who would love to support an inclusive society,” Hansen said.

    The RSL owner also said it’s currently unknown whether RSL will travel to Portland to play the Timbers on Saturday. The uncertainty of that game was also expressed by players on Wednesday.

    Hansen seemed convinced that the movement players were supporting by not playing Wednesday’s game usurped their feelings toward the local community.

    “They supported other issues nationally, but they clearly did not support our city nor our organization,” Hansen said. “That’s fairly clear.”


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