Disgraced Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir returns to the field after six-game suspension and $10,000 fine for racial slurs as New York beats CF Montreal 2-1
- Vanzeir called a referee a ‘monkey’ at the end of a game at the start of the season
- His teammates voted unanimously to let him join the team
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New York Red Bulls striker Dante Vanzeir took the field on Saturday night for the first time since receiving a six-game ban for a racist comment.
Vanzeir previously admitted to calling a referee a “monkey” during a game earlier this season against the San Jose Earthquakes. Along with the six-game suspension, he was also fined $10,000.
The Belgium striker claimed he meant it ‘in the clown, dummy sense’ after disagreeing with a call on the pitch.
Speaking to Sporza, Vanzeir, 25, said: “I’ll tell you exactly how it went.”
“The referee whistles a foul, after which I start a discussion with him. Afterwards, I still complain about the reference. I then said monkey, but in the sense of clown, dummy. Because I thought he made the wrong decision.
NYRB striker Dante Vanzeir returned to the pitch after his six-game suspension for racism
Vanzeir admitted calling a referee a monkey at the end of a game earlier this season
The 25-year-old says he wants to rehabilitate his reputation and continue playing for the Red Bulls
“It never even occurred to me that that word would be offensive to any of my opponents. I grumbled at myself and misjudged the impact of that word. In our language, this word is often used with an intention that is not at all racist.
At the time, it was believed he had told earthquake striker Jeremy Ebobisse, who said he heard the remark as the team left the field but did not believe the remark was directed at himself.
The incident caused major walkouts from Red Bull supporters due to former head coach Gerhard Struber’s handling of the delicate situation as it unfolded in real time.
Vanzeir’s teammates, however, unanimously voted for his return ahead of the game.
“Yeah, I would say it’s been a process,” head coach Troy Lesesne said Friday. “It has been a very long process for Dante, for our club, for our supporters. The process is not over with the reinstatement this weekend.
Red Bulls fans protested the team and its now ex-manager Gerhard Struber handling the situation the moment it happened.
Fans were unhappy with Struber’s perceived lack of action when the incident happened
“In terms of his process, what I would like to talk about is that the process started with Dante, number one. Dante did a very good job of admitting error, acknowledging error, acknowledging that it was a huge mistake.
“There were consequences that followed that for himself, for our club, for our fans, for San Jose. There were a lot of parts involved in this and he took ownership, maybe not immediately, but very soon after in order to begin this process towards healing.
As for the game itself, Vanzeir had minimal impact after replacing Corey Burke in the 67th minute of action.
In his 23 minutes, Vanzeir completed 62.5% of his passes and took no shots.