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MLS trainer fired for allegedly flashing 'OK' symbol

Additionally, two players for D.C. United were suspended in a separate incident for allegedly using a racial slur during training.
MLS trainer fired for allegedly flashing 'OK' symbol
Posted at 10:40 AM, Jul 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-25 10:40:18-04

D.C. United has fired a member of its training staff for allegedly using a discriminatory hand gesture in a photograph published across social media platforms on July 20. 

The MLS team has not said who the training staffer was, but the Washington Post identified the staffer as Reade Whitney. He is listed as the team's head athletic trainer. 

The Washington Post said that Whitney allegedly used an "OK" hand symbol in a social media post. The Anti-Defamation League says the gesture can be used as a hate symbol, but adds,"Because of the traditional meaning of the 'okay' hand gesture, as well as other usages unrelated to white supremacy, particular care must be taken not to jump to conclusions about the intent behind someone who has used the gesture." 

SEE MORE: WTA decries racism as Chinese pro Shuai Zhang leaves match

The club decried the use of the hand signal. 

"There is no place for racism, homophobia, misogyny, or discrimination of any kind in our sport and world and D.C. United do not tolerate any acts of this nature," the team said in a statement. 

The firing came as D.C. United also announced the suspensions of two players. The team did not state why the players were suspended. 

The Athletic reported that players Taxi Fountas and Nigel Robertha were suspended for allegedly using a racial slur during a recent training session. 

Fountas was the subject of an MLS investigation last year after Inter Miami coach Phil Neville accused him of using a racial slur during a match. He sat out two games. 

"MLS was unable to confirm independently, through additional eyewitness accounts, video footage or audio recordings, what Fountas said in that moment, as has been the league’s long-standing practice in determining player discipline for these types of allegations," the MLS said following its investigation. 

Last year, the MLS also said that D.C. United violated league rules by not including two or more candidates from underrepresented groups in its search for a head coach. The team ultimately hired Wayne Rooney. The team was fined $25,000.

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