Utah Soccer announced Friday that Dell Loy Hansen, the owner of MLS' Real Salt Lake, NWSL's Utah Royals and USL's Real Monarchs, will be taking a leave of absence from the clubs while being investigated for the alleged use of racist language.
"As MLS and NWSL commence their investigations, Utah Soccer will ensure full cooperation, including seeking to answer any questions the leagues may have about the statements made by Mr. Hansen regarding athlete boycotts and allegations in a resulting article. As an organization, our priority is our employees, our teams, our players, and our fans, and Mr. Hansen in particular cares deeply for each of these individuals who works so hard to make Utah Soccer the success that it is.
"During the pendency of these investigations, and until further notice, Mr. Hansen will be taking a leave of absence from all RSL, URFC, and Monarchs operations. The existing Soccer Executive Group at Utah Soccer will assume all management of the organization."
During an appearance on Salt Lake City radio Station X96 on Thursday (h/t The Athletic), Hansen said he was opposed to the players' protests against racial injustice that led to RSL's match Wednesday against Los Angeles FC being postponed. He said it was like "somebody stabbed you and you're trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward."
Former RSL employee Andy Williams detailed a 2016 incident when speaking to The Athletic, in which Hansen allegedly asked "when are we gonna lynch this guy?" in reference to then-FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta, a Black member of the United States men's national team. Acosta currently plays for the Colorado Rapids.
Williams, who played for the club before joining the front office as a scout following his 2011 retirement, told The Athletic the reported comments didn't come as a surprise.
"That's just how he is," Williams said. "He's a f--king racist, to be honest. I've been in situations where it's like (former Los Angeles Clippers owner) Donald Sterling. He says something, and it's like, 'Oh my God, what did he just say?' It's Donald Sterling part two. It's just unbelievable. It's crazy how he doesn't see that the stuff that he says affects people."
Williams also alleged he heard Hansen use the N-word during his tenure with the organization.
Real Salt Lake is scheduled to resume the 2020 season Saturday night when they visit Providence Park to take on the Portland Timbers.