Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen takes leave of absence after MLS investigation launched

COL vs LAFC - 2020

On August 27, MLS announced an investigation into Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen after allegations of conduct and language in an article on The Athletic.

Earlier on the same day, MLS Commissioner Don Garber released a statement strongly opposing comments by Hansen on a local radio show in relation to the postponement of the RSL-LAFC match following a protest by MLS players.

Hansen has since taken a leave of absence from the clubs he oversees as the head of Utah Soccer, LLC.

A timeline of events follows below.

UPDATE (Fri., Aug. 28 @ 8:20 p.m. ET): Utah Soccer LLC, the company that formally owns Real Salt Lake (MLS), Utah Royals FC (NWSL) and Real Monarchs (USL) clubs, released a statement ensuring cooperation with investigations by MLS and NWSL, as well as a leave of absence by Hansen from all operations of the clubs. 

The complete statement follows:

As MLS and NWSL commence their investigations, Utah Soccer will ensure full cooperation, including seeking to answer any questions the leagues may have about the statements made by Mr. Hansen regarding athlete boycotts and allegations in a resulting article. As an organization, our priority is our employees, our teams, our players, and our fans, and Mr. Hansen in particular cares deeply for each of these individuals who works so hard to make Utah Soccer the success that it is.

During the pendency of these investigations, and until further notice, Mr. Hansen will be taking a leave of absence from all RSL, URFC, and Monarchs operations. The existing Soccer Executive Group at Utah Soccer will assume all management of the organization.

UPDATE (Thurs., Aug. 27 @ 8 p.m. ET): MLS has released a statement responding to allegations made in an article on The Athletic that Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen has a history of making racially charged remarks in his time as owner of the club.

The statement follows below:

We are deeply concerned about the allegations made in a report published this evening concerning language used by and the conduct of Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen. Major League Soccer has zero tolerance for this type of language or conduct and will immediately commence an investigation.

ORIGINAL STORY (Thurs., Aug. 27 @ 6:30 p.m. ET): MLS Commissioner Don Garber has released a statement strongly opposing the comments made by Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen on Thursday morning.

Hansen criticized the refusal of many MLS players, including those from RSL and LAFC, to play their scheduled Wednesday matches in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and as part of the ongoing movement to end police brutality and systemic racism in the United States.

In an interview with KXRK 96.3FM's "Radio From Hell" show on Thursday morning, Hansen described the protest as “like somebody stabbed you and you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward," adding that "the disrespect is profound to me personally.” He also accused the players of damaging the club's efforts to bring people together during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday afternoon, Commissioner Garber released the following statement in response:

I appreciate Dell Loy Hansen’s efforts to build the sport of soccer in Utah.  His commitment to MLS, the NWSL and the USL, as well as the game at the youth level, has been significant.  However, I strongly disagree with the comments he made today, the way they were expressed, and they do not reflect the views of MLS.

This is a time for all of us to work together in the pursuit of racial equality and social justice.  Major League Soccer and all of its clubs will continue to support and create initiatives that enact real change.