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Allegation of racist abuse investigated after Utah Royals’ win over Portland Thorns

Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn spoke out, saying racism has no place at Royals games or elsewhere.

The Utah Royals and the Portland Thorns are investigating allegations that a fan directed racist language at Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch during the Royals’ 1-0 win Friday over the Thorns in Utah.

During the match Friday night, a fan took to Twitter to say that a man was yelling racist slurs at Franch, who is black, and asked that he be removed from the game. The Royals responded, asking for the fan’s help in identifying the perpetrator. Other fans online seemed to corroborate the allegations, but it’s unclear whether they were reacting to the first tweet alleging racist abuse. The fan’s initial tweets have since been deleted.

Both clubs have taken the report seriously and say they are investigating.

“We are aware of the allegations of racist fan language during last night’s match and are continuing our investigation of the incident,” the Royals tweeted Saturday. “Racism in any form is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our stadiums.”

The Thorns issued a similar tweet in response to a fan’s concerns: “We are aware of the allegations of racist fan language in Salt Lake last night at the game and are investigating. Racism in any form is unacceptable.”

Royals players Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn took to Twitter to condemn any racist behavior from fans of the team.

“I am a proud black woman,” Press wrote. “I play for a team and fans that I love. Acts of racism and hate hurt everyone. This club stands for equality. What we won’t accept from any fan is racism or discrimination at any level.”

“This is totally unacceptable,” Sauerbrunn said. “There is NO place for racism in our game or anywhere, EVER.”

The Royals beat the Thorns on a rare Sauerbrunn goal Friday, which Press assisted. The win pushed Utah into playoff position, while the Thorns remain atop of the NWSL standings.

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