The NWSL announced it launched an investigation based on anti-discrimination policy on April 10 after Red Stars’ Sarah Gorden said she and her boyfriend were racially profiled by a Houston security guard.
The defender said that after Chicago’s game versus the Dash, her boyfriend went down the steps to talk with her. However, she noticed a security guard following, who said her boyfriend, “would be arrested if he came close,” Gorden tweeted.
Meanwhile, she noticed several white families were talking, unbothered, with their players near the couple.
“At first I didn’t realize this was a racial issue until I saw white @HoustonDash players surrounding the stadium talking closely to their family and we were the only ones targeted,” Gorden tweeted. “I asked the security guard why he was only talking to us. He said he would go to them later. He never approached any of them. These players have multiple photos with their people.”
The Dash announced in a statement on Monday that the NWSL’s “formal investigation” is “underway.” The club initially apologized to Gorden on Saturday, claiming that COVID-19 safety was partially behind the incident. “We apologize to her and the club for anything that may have created an impression on the contrary,” the statement read, in part.
Chicago assistant coach Scott Parkinson echoed Gorden’s claims on Saturday. He said one of his players approached him after the game and “seemed concerned for Sarah’s safety.” He then walked towards Gorden.
“It seemed to me that Sarah and her three Black friends were the only ones being addressed in this way and it was extremely upsetting.”
Parkinson said he “gave the staff member a piece of [his] mind” when he saw what was happening, telling him to “leave them alone and to deal with everyone else the same way.”
As they left the field, a Black woman told Parkinson “something along the lines of ‘that was messed up by that guy.’
“In that moment, my instincts told me they were being unfairly treated because of the color of their skin.”
Red Stars defender Casey Short released a statement on behalf of her teammates, saying, “It is unacceptable that a player is left in tears due to the actions of a stadium employee.”
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