The NWSL announced Saturday that a Utah Royals fan has been banned from all games at Utah’s Rio Tinto Stadium and all National Women’s Soccer League games, after the fan yelled racist taunts at the Portland Thorns’ black goalkeeper Adrianna Franch during a Thorns-Royals game earlier this month.
Below is the league’s official statement:
Per the Salt Lake Tribune, another Royals fan reported the incident on Twitter (in now-deleted tweets) during the game. Though the team acknowledged the report and sent security to the section, stadium security was initially unable to identify the source of the comments.
Afterward, both the Royals and Thorns said they were investigating.
“The situation surrounding our game friday night is not a NEW issue, nor is it a first for me,” Franch wrote on Twitter. “RACISM is NOT okay in any form!! We as a HUMAN RACE can be better and should be better. We as a SPORT can help show the way.”
At The Athletic, Meg Linehan wrote that this had called attention to the NWSL’s lack of a fan code of conduct and cited MLS’s troubles with its own policies. “How this investigation is handled will define the league’s approach to a code of conduct,” Linehan wrote. “There’s little desire for a copy and pasted version of the MLS rules for stadium conduct, but there is potential for the NWSL to set itself apart and create a policy that reflects its fan base while still protecting those in the stands and on the field.”
In a statement last week, the NWSL Players Association said it hoped the NWSL and its teams teams would institute league- and team-wide policies to handle similar incidents in the future: