UTAH

After 25 cases of racist comments, Utah Youth Soccer is making changes

May 28, 2024, 6:35 PM | Updated: Jun 11, 2024, 8:54 am

The Utah Youth Soccer Association said racist comments have come from other players as well as pare...

The Utah Youth Soccer Association said racist comments have come from other players as well as parents. (Shelby Lofton, KSL TV)

(Shelby Lofton, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Youth Soccer Association is working to improve how it responds to racist comments on the soccer pitch.

The association reported 25 cases of racist comments in this past season. They include many player-to-player comments and many comments by parents from the stands.


 

Of the 25 total issues, one resulted in a parent’s indefinite suspension.

Racist comments, on and off the Utah soccer field

Diego Godoy is the founder of Utah Rio Futbol Club, who also has four children who play soccer in Utah.

He said he and his friends have heard racist comments both on and off soccer fields in Utah.

“The other players called him ‘monkey,’” Godoy said of his son. “And I said, ‘Why do you say that?’ And it’s like, ‘well you’ve got big ears and that’s why you’re a monkey’”

Godoy said the UYSA has always pushed his complaints under the carpet.

“When we start, try to complain about it, instead of having an answer, we have more complaints on top of that one,” Godoy said. “Like, oh but we heard that this had happened.”

He said the first time that he saw an issue was when his daughter left the field crying because a coach on the other team made a discriminatory comparison of his daughter to a movie character.

Godoy said he had heard racist comments from other players, parents, coaches and even refs.

Taking racist comments during soccer games seriously

The UYSA Commissioner, Scot Boyd, said they are taking this very seriously. The association updated a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination this past season.

Boyd walked through the changes in a presentation in March. It includes a slide titled with the n-word ending in an “a.”

The slide reads “UYSA was humiliated this last Summer when 3 of our players were ejected and then suspended for the entirety of Far West Regionals and Regional President’s Cup. DON’T USE IT!”

That slide, and others in the updated policy, include specific guidance to referees on how to respond the moment a complaint is made.

“The problem in the past has been, [that] the arbiter on the field is the referee, with their assistant referees. So if they didn’t hear it, they couldn’t do anything about it,” Boyd said. “We’ve changed that. Now, if a statement is made, you get in touch with the referee, you let the referee know the statement was made. The referee will stop the game.”

Boyd said the referee would then investigate immediately and talk to both coaches.

Confident in this plan, and willing to consider other options 

Boyd is confident in this update but acknowledged that if it doesn’t work, they’re open to creating a multicultural board to investigate incidents of racism at games.

Boyd said the most important thing to him is making sure players are heard.

“Right out of the gate, making sure they understand that, it’s not them, it’s the other person. They’re one hundred percent at fault,” Boyd said. “And we don’t like that behavior, we don’t want that behavior, we don’t need those people there who are going to participate in that behavior.”

Other reading: America has an umpire shortage. Unruly parents aren’t helping

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After 25 cases of racist comments, Utah Youth Soccer is making changes