21 February 2006

Nowak and Alleged Racist Comments: RSL Pushing the Issue

Previously on this topic: [1] [2] [3]

From the Washington Post today, we see that RSL has indeed filed a complaint that prompted Garber's press release yesterday. While I was originally stating that if Ellinger pressed the issue, I would be upset, I'm going to back away from that right now. It seems like Kevin Payne also wanted a full MLS investigation:

"We've asked the league to look into it because we know what happened and we know what was said -- Real Salt Lake is simply mistaken," said Payne, who was near the team bench during the match. "The league also needs to look into how Salt Lake has handled it. I talked to some of the Salt Lake people after the game and they didn't say a word to me about it, not one word. For them to handle it this way is mind-boggling."
I think that's fair. There are a number of thing that no one outside of MLS knows right now that need to be known before any final judgements can be made. They are:
  1. What is the nature of RSL's complaint? Do they specifically allege racism, or is it a complaint about Nowak issuing a command to injure another player?
  2. The statements from the Assistant Referees are very important. It should be noted that right now only DCU has said the ARs never heard a racist comment, but we don't have that from the ARs or MLS itself. I can't imagine DCU would be wrong about something like that, especially since they are the true neutral parties in this situation.
  3. I don't like going after Ellinger, because it does have a sort of "blame the victim" taste to it. But there are legitimate questions as to how RSL has handled this. Why allow for a radio interview to create hazy suspicion when a "that's something for the league to look into" or "no comment" would have sufficed? Does Ellinger feel that he has to file the protest now in order to maintain his reputation after the radio interview? And will MLS examine the way in which this story went public?

Now, let's be clear: Ellinger if he heard a racist comment should have filed a grievance directly and immediately against DCU. If he felt that MLS wasn't taking him seriously, then I can understand going public in order to draw attention to the situation. But by allowing this story to be propogated in public first, he is allowing for public perceptions to taint the images of everyone involved before any decent fact-finding has been done. That's wrong. He has stepped outside of the chain of command, and encouraged a poisonous atmosphere to develop under these actions. Ellinger has every right to be outraged, and every reason to channel that outrage through the appropriate channels. This may just have been a case of a poor deflection of a media question, in which case all he has to do is say "I said the wrong thing. My bad." All will be forgiven here then.

Let me reiterate: It is now incumbent on MLS to be definitive in their findings, and to act appropriately. Nowak, even if he said "to the hospital," might merit a significant suspension, but MLS must make it clear that is what the suspension was for. Simply issuing a vague statement that "Today, Piotr Nowak was suspended 5 games for conduct detrimental to the league" won't cut it. I would also like MLS to say precisely what the allegation was, and what information was used to evaluate it. In the manner, we can all have confidence that the correct decision was reached, for the proper reasons, and the appropriate sanctions issued.


At 21 February, 2006 13:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I strongly agree that the MLS must take a rare exception for themselves and submit, in a transparent way, a detailed report of their investigation. No vague announcement can be tolerated by the public.


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