I’m a firm believer that everyone deserves a second chance. I believe in grace, and giving people the benefit of the doubt, and I will not try to go out of my way to dehumanize anyone. That’s just me, though, because I’m a woman full of my own mistakes.
But when an individual has a history of mistreating others, of racism, of being unapologetic, of creating a toxic culture, much like Dell Loy Hansen has a history of doing as the owner of Real Salt Lake/Utah Royals FC/Real Monarchs, that’s when we, as a soccer community (writers, the leagues, players, fans, non-fans even) have a responsibility to address the issues, especially when DLH has gotten away with all of the above.
The Athletic reported yesterday a history of racial abuse from DLH, something many just heard as rumors and hearsay for years. RSL Soapbox posted the full transcript of the DLH interview with X96’s Radio from Hell where he aired some grievances against the decision for RSL to protest Wednesday’s game in response to the unjust shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Wisconsin earlier this week. Former players and staff also publicly corroborated many of the stories. It was a whirlwind of a day, but finally, the public was able to learn and hear about DLH’s history of racial abuse and his true feelings on protesting against racial injustice.
It’s true that DLH has created an empire in Utah, owning three soccer clubs all under the RSL organization, building a soccer academy, forming investments, which are all intertwined with his soccer club, and real estate.
For NWSL fans, most notably, DLH invested in the league when one of its founding clubs, FCKC, folded because of negligent ownership. He formed, in short time, Utah Royals FC, flaunting its new locker room and promising to treat the women’s team equally. Most recently, he offered to host the NWSL Challenge Cup, using his facilities and real estate to create a safe environment during a global pandemic, again bolstering his image.
But by the reports and even hearing his own words, it’s time that DLH is held accountable for his words and actions. Major League Soccer, the NWSL, and USL now have the task to launch an investigation and move to remove him as owner and terminate their relationship. Both MLS and the NWSL both have announced they will investigate.
It will take time, of course, and Major League Soccer will have more authority to hold him accountable. For the NWSL, however, how will they hold someone accountable who has invested heavily in the league? If MLS forces a sale, what happens to the women’s team? The hope is that a new owner will buy the entire organization, but what if not?
An investigation and a form of action will take time, of course, but I hope the NWSL makes a bold move. Otherwise, it will just be disappointing.