New York Red Bulls designated player Dante Vanzeir will “step away from the club until further notice” to “avoid further distractions,” according to a statement released by the team Tuesday afternoon.
Vanzeir is accused of using a racial slur in a confrontation with San Jose Earthquakes during a game last weekend at Red Bull Arena.
The Tuesday afternoon statement says the Belgian addressed his teammates before making the decision but he’s almost sure to face stiff penalties for his actions pending the completion of an investigation.
A the very least Vanzeir should not be available for selection when the Philadelphia Union travel to Harrison, N.J. for a league game on May 6. Whether he returns to the team before the return fixture in Chester in September remains to be seen but there’s a strong argument to be made that his debut should also mark the end of his tenure in the league.
There are also open questions about head coach Gerhard Struber and his handling of the incident and the flurry of statements released by the club aren’t exactly going to be presented as a positive case study in crisis communication at an industry conference any time soon.
Reducing widespread concern about the use of racial slurs to “distractions” or saying you didn’t intend harm or offense isn’t a great look for the Red Bulls or player no matter what team you support in a league that claims to be committed to ridding the game of such behaviors.