Disgraced Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir returns to the field following a six-game suspension and a $10,000 fine for racist comments as New York defeats CF Montreal 2-1
- Vanzeir called a referee a ‘monkey’ at the end of a game at the start of the season
- His teammates voted unanimously that they agreed with him rejoining the squad.
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New York Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir took the field for the first time since receiving a six-game suspension for a racist comment.
Vanzeir previously admitted to calling a referee a ‘monkey’ during a game earlier this season against the San Jose Earthquakes. Along with the six game suspension, he was also fined $10,000.
The Belgian striker claimed he meant it ‘in the clown, silly sense’ after disagreeing with a call on the pitch.
Speaking to Sporza, Vanzeir, 25, the Red Bulls’ record signing who joined the team in February, said: “I’ll tell you exactly how it went.”
‘The referee blows his whistle for a foul, after which I get into an argument with him. Afterwards, I keep complaining about the ref. So I said monkey, but in the sense of a clown, silly. Because I thought he made the wrong decision.
NYRB forward Dante Vanzeir has returned to the field following his six-game suspension for racism.
Vanzeir admitted to calling a referee a monkey at the end of a game earlier this season
The 25-year-old says he wants to rehabilitate his reputation and continue playing for Red Bulls.
‘It never occurred to me that that word would be offensive to one of my opponents. He was muttering to myself and I misjudged the impact of that word. In our language, that word is often used with an intent that is not racist at all.’
It was believed at the time that he had told Earthquake striker Jeremy Ebobisse, who said he heard the comment as the team left the pitch, but did not believe the comment was directed at him.
The incident sparked major strikes from Red Bull supporters over former head coach Gerhard Struber’s handling of the delicate situation, as it played out in real time.
However, Vanzeir’s teammates unanimously voted for his return before the game.
“Yeah, I would say it’s been a process,” head coach Troy Lesesne said Friday. It has been a very long process for Dante, for our club, for our fans. The process is not done for reinsertion this weekend.’
Red Bulls fans protested against the team and their now former manager, Gerhard Struber, for their handling of the situation at the time it occurred.
Fans were not happy with Struber’s perceived lack of action when the incident occurred.
‘In terms of his process, what I’d like to talk about is that the process started with Dante, number one. Dante did a really good job of admitting the mistake, acknowledging the mistake, acknowledging that it was a big mistake.
‘There were consequences that followed for him, for our club, for our supporters, for San José. There were many parties involved in this and he took charge, maybe not right away, but very soon after to start this process towards healing.’
As for the game itself, Vanzeir made minimal impact after coming on for Corey Burke in the 67th minute of action.
During his 23 minutes of play, Vanzeir completed 62.5 percent of his passes and missed a shot.