CHICAGO – The U.S. Open Cup adjudication and discipline panel has conducted a hearing and reviewed evidence concerning alleged use of a racial epithet directed at Los Angeles Football Club player Adama Diomande by a Portland Timbers player during the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match in Los Angeles July 18.
The panel found that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that a racial epithet was used but as a matter of principle, it condemned all forms of racial abuse, stating the use of a racial epithet has no place on or off the soccer field.
“U.S. Soccer bylaws expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, among other protected characteristics, and the FIFA Code of Ethics provides in relevant part that players shall not ‘offend the dignity or integrity of a … person … through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions on account of race, skin colour, ethnicity.'”
As part of the review, the panel heard from all players involved.
According to a press released from U.S. Soccer, “It should be clearly noted that the accused player strongly denies using a racial epithet.”
The panel also reviewed the match official’s report, along with written statements and video evidence provided by the clubs. After reviewing all of the available information, the panel found no other individual that was able to confirm they heard the alleged use of the racial epithet.
While in no way diminishing the serious allegation, the panel also took into consideration that the alleged incident occurred while multiple speakers spoke at the same time in multiple languages during a tense situation, which could allow one individual to misunderstand another individual.
In its written decision, the Open Cup adjudication and discipline panel explained:
“…this is a case of a dispute over what was said between players on the playing field, amidst noise, confusion and multiple speakers speaking at once and in at least two languages. The match official did not hear the statement in question and did not issue a caution based on the incident, nor did any other player in the vicinity come forward to confirm they heard the alleged statement. … Given the possibility that it is always possible to mishear or misunderstand another individual in a tense situation, the panel concluded it does not have a basis to value the credibility of one player over another in this matter.”