Kai Wagner suspended three games for using racial slurs – Philadelphia Football Page
Photo: Marjorie Elzey
This story has been updated with a statement by Kay Wagner.
The Major League Soccer League announced on Tuesday evening that Philadelphia Union defender Kai Wagner was suspended for three games for using a racial slur against New England Revolution striker Bobby Wood.
Specifically, the league found that Wagner violated the league’s anti-discrimination policy during the league’s first game of the playoffs last Saturday.
According to reports last week, Wagner directed a slur at Wood in the moments following an 87th-minute foul by Revs forward Giacomo Frioni. Wagner used a German-language insult targeting Asians. Wood, who is of Japanese and African American descent, speaks German and spent most of his career in Germany.
The league said in its press release that it took into account “many factors” in deciding the length of the suspension, including Wagner’s “immediate acceptance of responsibility, willingness to engage in the restorative practices process to repair the harm caused, and his cooperation with the league’s investigations.”
“Wagner is also required to continue participating in league-mandated educational and training sessions, a process that has already begun, and must remain in full compliance with the program directed by a league-appointed restorative practices expert,” according to the league.
Wagner will be suspended, at a minimum, for the remainder of the Union vs. Revolution series, as well as the conference semifinals if Union wins the series. If Union beats the Revs tomorrow night, Wagner’s suspension would also include the conference final if Union reaches that round.
The federation said in a club statement: “We support the MLS ruling and appreciate the importance and seriousness of promoting an inclusive environment for all.” “The Philadelphia Union does not condone any form of harassment, discrimination or offensive language.”
Wagner, 26, was already expected to leave the club in the holiday period and his behavior is unlikely to increase the chances of a contract extension.
“The past few days have been very difficult for me and my family,” Wagner said in a post on his Instagram page. “I said something I deeply regret in the heat of the moment and it was in response to defending unacceptable comments regarding my family. I sincerely apologize for this and will work to improve myself and my actions. This does not represent who I am.”
Wagner’s racist behavior has undermined his standing among the fan base, tarnished his career with Philadelphia, and jeopardized his team’s playoff chances.