NWSL Investigating Sarah Gorden's Allegations of Racial Profiling at Challenge Cup

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 13, 2021

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Sarah Gorden #11 of the Chicago Red Stars dribbles the ball during a game between Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars at SeatGeek Stadium on September 26, 2020 in Bridgeview, Illinois.(Photo by Daniel Bartel/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
Daniel Bartel/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The National Women's Soccer League launched an investigation after Chicago Red Stars defender Sarah Gorden alleged she was racially profiled by security personnel at the Houston Dash's home stadium.

Gorden said Saturday she went to see her boyfriend in the stands following Chicago's 0-0 draw. She claimed security approached her while allowing other players to freely interact with loved ones:

Sarah Gorden @sarahlgorden

At first I didn’t realize this was a racial issue until I saw white @HoustonDash players surrounding the stadium talking closely to their family and we were the only ones targeted

Sarah Gorden @sarahlgorden

This is just another reason why we kneel.

The Dash responded by saying the players were in violation of the NWSL's COVID-19 protocols and that its staff members were "entirely focused on COVID safety" and apologized.

Houston Dash @HoustonDash


The team followed up Tuesday to say its initial statement "was off the mark" and that the NWSL is investigating the incident:

Houston Dash @HoustonDash


The NWSL addressed the matter in a statement.

"Racial profiling and discrimination have no place in this league, and we are investigating the matter according to league process," the league said, per Annie Costabile of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Red Stars assistant coach Scott Parkinson provided his account. One of his players approached him after the game and "seemed concerned for Sarah's safety," at which point he walked over toward Gorden.

"It seemed to me that Sarah and her three Black friends were the only ones being addressed in this way and it was extremely upsetting," Parkinson said.

Scott Parkinson @parkinson_scott

This is how I saw it all last night in Houston. https://t.co/Y4imQ4q4db pic.twitter.com/3nnygw5NvZ

Red Stars defender Casey Short also issued a statement on behalf of her teammates.

Short said the COVID-19 protocols needed to be followed but that "Sarah was treated inconsistently and inappropriately."

"It is unacceptable that a player is left in tears due to the actions of a stadium employee," she said.

Casey Short @CaseyShort3


The Red Stars made their only trip to BBVA Stadium in Houston for the NWSL Challenge Cup.

The league has yet to release a full regular-season schedule, so it's unclear when Chicago will travel to Houston again.