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Royals win overshadowed by allegations of racism in the stands

(Courtesy Timbers Army)

The Utah Royals defeated the Portland Thorns 1-0 on Friday night in Salt Lake City, but the victory was marred by allegations of racist abuse towards Portland goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

The allegations first surfaced in a series of now-deleted tweets by a fan inside the stadium, and the Royals organization responded by sending extra security to the section.

Franch herself also seemed to acknowledge that she heard the abuse in a tweet that she also later deleted. The Portland Thorns issued a statement on Saturday that they were aware of the allegation, but an Equalizer request for additional comment was not returned.

A club representative from Utah confirmed to The Equalizer that the team is trying to identify the people responsible for the alleged abuse and would consider a ban or other form of severe punishment if they are identified.

The Royals are owned by Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake which was recently in the news for forcing a fan to take down a Betsy Ross flag because of its appropriation by right-wing extremists and other hate groups.

Following that incident, the organization issued the following statement from RSL Chief Business Officer Andy Carroll:

“At Real Salt Lake it is our mission to unify our community through soccer and we promote inclusion, diversity and acceptance. It is important that everyone in the community not only feel welcome at our stadiums, but appreciated, respected and valued. Rio Tinto Stadium is reflective of that on match day and we encourage a unifying and welcoming environment to all fans at all of our RSL and Utah Royals FC matches. To be permitted to bring a flag into any of our stadiums is a privilege. Recently, and very controversially as well as surprising to us, the Colonial flag has been adopted as a symbol for hate groups. Any controversial flags or other similar banners or signs with symbols of hatred, divisiveness and/or intolerance whether intentional or otherwise will not be permitted in our stadiums. Period.”

Real Salt Lake also fired its men’s team’s coach, Mike Petke, in August after he used homophobic language towards a referee.

Since the alleged abuse towards Franch, two of her United States women’s national team teammates—who both play for the Royals—have stepped forward and condemned the incident on social media.

The Equalizer reached out to the league for comment and was directed to the following statement released via Twiter.

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