West Ham players respond to racial slur incident that happened during The Soccer Tournament

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Friday, June 2, 2023
West Ham players respond to racial slur incident
Controversy embroiled The Soccer Tournament in Cary on Thursday when a player for West Ham said a Dallas United player used a racial slur directed at him.

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Controversy embroiled The Soccer Tournament in Cary on Thursday when a team walked off the field during a match.

It happened near the end of the match between Dallas United and West Ham United. Dallas was up 2-0 when West Ham walked off the pitch.

Former professional player Anton Ferdinand, who is one of several former West Ham players who made the trip to the United States to represent the English club, said a Dallas United player used a racial slur against him.

Ferdinand and teammate Matt Jarvis spoke publicly about the incident around noon on Friday, after their final match of the tournament.

"I need to go on record and say the topic of conversation that was laid bare yesterday is better than football. The way that TST dealt with it so swiftly, the no-nonsense action, a lot of people around the world, organizations around the world, can take note," Ferdinand said.

Ferdinand declined to get into specifics about what was said to him, but he did say his and his teammates' reaction was warranted.

"This is a fiercely competitive format, and it does not exist or survive unless we stand in support and provide a safe playing environment for our teams. And that is what we will always strive to do," said TST CEO Jon Mugar.

Ferdinand acknowledged the club considered skipping its match Friday, but opted to play, crediting TST officials for how they handled the situation. Prior to the match, players on both clubs knelt in solidarity.

"I've got a duty, I believe in myself, to make sure that if I'm in these situations, I use my voice in the best way possible," Ferdinand explained.

West Ham won its match Friday 4-3, though was eliminated due to its overall record; tournament officials determined no points would be awarded stemming from Thursday's match against Dallas United, which it was trailing 2-0 when it was called.

Ferdinand expressed his appreciation for how fans, supporters and opponents reacted.

"When somebody of white heritage hears somebody of my heritage speak of it, it's almost like it's a broken record, we've heard it before. But when you hear it from somebody who looks like you, it makes you take note. So I think everybody needs to come together to fight as a collective. And if we do that, football can be the catalyst for change in society. But society is going to have to want to change with it," Ferdinand said.

Mugar said tournament organizers have not yet considered whether Dallas United will be invited back.

Controversy embroiled The Soccer Tournament in Cary on Thursday when a team walked off the field during a match.

"We have to remember that this ain't just a football issue, this is a societal issue that needs addressing, and if more people address it the way TST addressed it, the world would be a better place," he said.

This is not the first racial incident that Ferdinand has been forced to endure while playing soccer. In November of 2020, he was the subject of a BBC special looking at racism in the sport. A case he brought forward in the 2010s resulted in John Terry, a world-famous English footballer, being banned for four matches and forced to pay a 220,000 Euro fine.

The referee in charge of the match in Cary on Thursday told players he did not hear what was said, therefore was unsure what the proper course of action should have been.

"Due to the lack of action taken on the pitch, the players made a collective decision to walk off the pitch as a team in support of our player. As a Club, everyone at West Ham United stands shoulder to shoulder in solidarity against all forms of discrimination and abuse," West Ham said in a statement.

After the game, The Soccer Tournament investigated the allegations and determined Dallas United violated the tournament's code of conduct.

Dallas United withdrew from the tournament.

"In light of the shadow cast by an opposing player's accusation during tonight's match, the Dallas United players unanimously decided to withdraw from the remainder of the competition," the club said in a statement.

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