A group of former West Ham United players walked off the field during a match in The Soccer Tournament on Thursday after a player on the opposing Dallas United allegedly used a racial slur.
Organizers for The Soccer Tournament, a publicly open, 7-on-7 event from the people behind The Basketball Tournament, announced later in the night that Dallas United had withdrawn from the competition after investigating the incident and speaking with leaders on both clubs:
“After conducting an investigation into the final moments of the match between West Ham United and Dallas United, we have concluded that Dallas United violated TST’s code of conduct. We have been in dialogue with leadership from both clubs and we are all aligned that the best path forward is Dallas United withdrawing from competition. All parties involved are unified in wanting to make a statement against racial insensitivity.
“We seek to run an event that is not only fiercely high stakes for all competitors, but also one in which all competitors feel safe and protected.
“As a result, tomorrow’s game between Dallas United and Far East United has been canceled.”
Per The Athletic, TST officials said a Dallas player started to use the N-word toward a West Ham player. Former West Ham center back Anton Ferdinand, who played for the Hammers from 2003-2008, was initially believed to be the slur’s target, but it was later clarified to be striker Frank Nouble.
The referee of the match did not hear the slur, according to ESPN. The incident apparently came near the end of the match with Dallas leading 2-0, and as the West Ham players walking away after a long delay. When asked by reporters what happened, Ferdinand reportedly said “racism” without elaborating.
Dallas United, a team composed mostly of amateur players from the Dallas area, acknowledged the allegation but didn’t confirm or challenge its veracity in its own statement:
In light of the shadow cast by an opposing player’s accusation during tonight’s match, the Dallas United players unanimously decided to withdraw from the remainder of the competition.
Our coaches and staff fully support the team’s decision.
We thank @TST7v7 for the opportunity…
— Dallas United (@DallasUnited) June 2, 2023
West Ham United still played against Mo Ali FC on Friday, with both squads taking a knee at the start of the match.
An amazing moment at the beginning of @WestHam vs. Culture By Mo Ali FC game today. Both sides took a knee in solidarity after last night’s suspended match vs Dallas United after an incident of a racial slur during the match. Dallas later agreed to withdraw from the competition. pic.twitter.com/w4uRsSiTgy
— Bob Karp (@BobKarpDR) June 2, 2023
The incident comes during the inaugural Soccer Tournament, which also features former players from Borussia Dortmund, Wrexham, Wolves and others competing for a $1 million grand prize in Cary, N.C.