SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Amid all the jubilation after the Montreal Impact’s result over LD Alajuelense in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League semifinal on Tuesday, there was also a bitter note: displays of racism from some of the Alajuelense supporters.
A small segment of the home fans at the Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto were heard directing monkey chants at Impact winger Dominic Oduro before and during the match. After the game, Oduro published two tweets about the verbal treatment he received.
The taunts, Oduro told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday, started during the warmup and were concentrated in the northwest corner of the stadium. Oduro said he pointed out the chanting to a CONCACAF delegate at that time.
“I think I remember Nigel [Reo-Coker] was on the other side, warming up with one of our defenders, Donny [Toia],” Oduro told MLSsoccer.com. “And they started going with those monkey sounds. Fans always want to intimidate you, but for it to go that far, making those monkey noises, that is wrong. That’s going way too far for us to be just permissive about this stuff.”
On Thursday, MLS filed a report with CONCACAF about the game, spotlighting the racist chants and the throwing of various projectiles.
CONCACAF has established a protocol for racist incidents during matches, and the organization confirmed that the first level of the protocol was initiated on Tuesday, including the alerting of the match commissioner and the match official. Around the 75th minute, although the match was not stopped, as proscribed by the protocol, a PA announcement was made reminding the audience that racist insults were unacceptable.
“It went to a point where it was so bad, even one of their players heard it, and he was trying to restrain me from going to the fans and saying something,” Oduro said. “That shows even he heard it. Again, I hope the [Champions League] listens to that, because it’s not good for the team and for soccer, in general.”
The racist behavior was one part of the problem with the fans’ behavior on Tuesday. In addition, there were several objects thrown onto the pitch, including cups, a shoe, and a coin that struck goalkeeper Evan Bush in the second half.
Impact technical director Adam Braz told reporters on Wednesday that he appreciated the fervor of the Alajuelense fans, but that the behavior of some of them requires action from the Confederation.
“I think it's great to have this support and to have passionate fans, but not when it becomes violent or racist,” Braz said. “There's no room at all in the game or in life for racism. It's a disgrace that there were monkey chants and, obviously, violence when it comes to throwing coins or objects onto the field that endanger the players and the officials.”
Oduro, who said this was his first experience with racism on the soccer field, has been pleased with the support he has received in the wake of the incident. Many Costa Ricans, on social media, have apologized for the actions of the group of fans presumed to have racially abused him, and even Alajuelense star Jonathan McDonald took to Twitter to express his own disappointment.
“I think awareness has already been raised on Twitter,” Oduro said. “From what I’ve seen, people are tweeting back, they’re with me on this. You’ve just got to move on. Listen, this is a world where everybody’s not going to love you. Some will love you, some will hate you. What are you going to do? [You can show it] without crossing the line.
“As a minority, you’re dealing with this every day. And then, we come onto the field where we love to play with passion, and for us to go through something like that, it kind of degrades everything. Soccer is not like that.”