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Insufficient evidence found for racial epithet claim during Portland Timbers, LAFC U.S. Open Cup match

Apr 29, 2018; Los Angeles , CA, USA; General overall view of a MLS soccer match between the Seattle Sounders and the Los Angeles FC in the first game at Banc of California Stadium. LAFC defeated the Sounders 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After a U.S. Open Cup match between Los Angeles FC and the Portland Timbers July 18, LAFC forward Adama Diomande said he was called a racial slur during the match by an opponent.

An investigation and hearing held by the U.S. Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel concluded with insufficient evidence that a racial epithet was in fact used during the match, according to a U.S. Soccer statement released Thursday.

The panel conducted a hearing with both players involved in the incident. The accused player was not identitified in the statement. The panel also reviewed video from the match and took written statements from both clubs and the referee.

No one else said they heard the racial epithet, and the statement said multiple languages being used at the same time could have caused a misunderstanding. 

“…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 statement read. “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.”

The release also reiterated the bylaws of U.S. Soccer prohibiting discrimination of any kind, and said the panel “condemned all forms of racial abuse, stating the use of a racial epithet has no place on or off the soccer field.”

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