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Former Executive Sues MLS, Says Firing Due to Speaking on Racial Discrimination

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 22, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: One of the Adidas game balls with the logo to MLS and signature by Don Garber Commissioner of Major League Soccer on the pitch for the home opener match against between New York City FC and FC Cincinnati at Yankee Stadium on April 24, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)
Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

Former MLS executive Karine Travieso is suing the United States soccer league for race discrimination and retaliation, saying "she was removed from job duties, excluded from meetings and unjustly blamed for other employee's mistakes after speaking at a Juneteenth event in 2020," according to a report from TMZ Sports.

She says that at the Juneteenth event in question, she called out the MLS for a lack of diversity in prominent positions and the need for bias training in the workplace.

Travieso, who is Black, says at the event she shared that one of her bosses once implied that a 2 Chainz MLS All-Star Concert in 2018 would require additional security because Black people would be in attendance.

She says she also shared that she felt she couldn't speak with her bosses about issues of race and noted that there was "little to no Black representation in the decision-making positions and upper echelon of MLS."

In the lawsuit, Travieso says she encouraged MLS decision-makers to release a statement regarding the murder of George Floyd in 2020, which they eventually did, but only after several days.

Major League Soccer @MLS

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MLS released a statement in response to the lawsuit, per TMZ:

"Ms. Travieso's allegations have no merit as her job, along with her entire department and 20 percent of League Office positions, was eliminated in November of 2020 as a result of the dramatic impact of the pandemic on Major League Soccer's business.
"Ms. Travieso was not removed from her job duties for any other reason. Major League Soccer is committed to providing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment and takes these allegations very seriously.
"We are constantly working to ensure our employees feel safe and supported in the workplace."

Travieso is seeking damages in the lawsuit.