MLS suspends Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir for use of racial slur

New York Red Bulls
The New York Red Bulls battle Nashville SC in their home opener at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey on March 4.
amNewYork/Christian Arnold

Major League Soccer suspended Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir for six games and fined him an undisclosed amount for his use of a racial slur during Saturday’s 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes. Vanzeir will also be required to participate in additional League-mandated training and education sessions, as well as a restorative practices program.

The Red Bulls announced on Tuesday that Vanzeir would be stepping away from the team “to avoid further distractions.” Vanzeir used the slur around the 54th minute of Saturday’s match and caused a 21 minutes delay before the action was finally resumed. 

The Red Bulls had not released a statement regarding the suspension at the time of publication. 

Head coach  Gerhard Struber addressed reporters for the first time since the incident on Thursday afternoon. Struber had kept Vanzeir in the game until the 87th minute of the match when he was finally subbed out. 

The Red Bulls coach expressed regret over the decision in a statement earlier in the week and again on Thursday during his weekly press conference. 

“The duration of the decision, in the end, was too long,” Struber told reporters, according to The Athletic. “Right now I could say very clearly … I must bring Dante out immediately. But it was also for me a very, very new situation in my coaching career. I think it’s not so easy to always handle everything in the right way and especially this was the first time that I was confronted with a direction like that.”

Vanzeir joined New York earlier this year in a transfer that cost the Red Bulls $5 million and was their big offseason addition.