September 29, 2023

Brighton Journal

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D.C. United and Taxi Fountas agree to terminate contract after MLS finds ‘credible allegations’ of use of defamation

D.C. United and Taxi Fountas agree to terminate contract after MLS finds ‘credible allegations’ of use of defamation

D.C. United has reached an agreement with Taxi Fontas to mutually terminate his contract, the club announced Thursday.

Fontas, 27, has been embroiled in an ongoing league investigation into allegations that he directed a racial slur towards his former team-mate, United striker Nigel Roberta. This is the second time Fontas has been investigated for allegations that he used a racial slur; In 2022, Fountas was placed on leave after an Inter Miami player alleged that Fountas used the “N-word” during a game. The Major League Soccer did not penalize Fontas for the infraction, saying it found Miami’s allegations “credible” but could not conclusively prove them.

In this case, the league once again described the allegation against Fontas as credible.

“DC United and Forward Taxi Fountas have mutually agreed to terminate his contract, effective immediately,” the team statement read. “Fountas was placed on administrative leave by MLS on July 21 after what the league determined were credible allegations that he used prohibited and discriminatory language against another player.”

Fountas has not spoken publicly since the investigation began. Fountas allegedly used the slur during the second half of DC’s game against the New England Revolution in mid-July, while arguing with Robertha on the court. After the match, several sources familiar with the investigation said, Roberta allegedly hit Fontas with a foam roller, a commonly used stretching device. Later in the evening, Ruerta alleged to teammates and team officials that Fontas had directed the slander towards him. Both players were placed on leave after the incident. Roberta was reinstated a week later, while Fontas remained on indefinite leave.

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The sources familiar with it said during the investigation the athlete No other player interviewed stated that they had heard Fountas use the slur. Fountas and Robertha weren’t close to other players while they were arguing.

on saturday, the athlete It stated that Fontas commissioned a polygraph test in an effort to clear his name. In interviews with league and club officials, Fontas continued to deny the slur was used.

A source familiar with the investigation said this week that the termination of Fontas’ contract would end the league’s investigation into the allegations against him.

“There is no place for racism, homophobia, misogyny, or discrimination of any kind in our sport and our world, and D.C. United does not tolerate any such acts,” United said in its statement.

In a statement Thursday, the league said the league and its clubs are “committed to eliminating racism in the game.”

“Ensuring accountability for those who engage in racism sends a clear message that such hateful behavior will not be enabled or tolerated in Major League Soccer,” Black Players for Change said in a statement. The alliance of 170 MLS players, coaches and employees added: “As we move forward, BPC remains committed to working with MLS and MLSPA to foster a culture within MLS to ensure that racism is eliminated from MLS, football and beyond. There is clearly more work to be done.” We strive together.”

Fountas could not be reached for comment on the contract termination.

Fountas appeared in 38 games over one and a half seasons with D.C., scoring 18 goals and assisting on four more. In 2022, it was a rare last-place event with United, earning a spot on the league’s All-Star Team. His season was cut short by his alleged first use of a racial slur; It took MLS over a month to conduct its investigation, and Fontas returned home to Greece during that. He did not return to the team again in 2022, even after the end of the investigation, citing personal reasons.

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In 2023, Fontas production has slowed down. Much of United’s attack relies on former Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke, and Fontas has struggled to adapt to playing alongside him. Sources close to the sports department of the United team said that United the athlete Last week, those sources said, he had been trying to find a buyer for him for several months, although interest in him had been lukewarm.

What does this mean for United’s roster?

D.C. United now has a player place open with Fountas’ departure, despite the MLS summer transfer window closing. While their options are limited, and the team will likely fill in for a DP in the winter, DC can add a free agent if they so choose.

MLS clubs can sign free agents until a roster freeze on September 13. What’s less exciting is that DC could put one of their players earning above the cap ($651,000) as their third DP to save some customization money.

If the club goes the free agent route, there are some tempting options. Jesse Lingard – teammate of former Manchester United manager Wayne Rooney – is available after leaving Nottingham Forest. He can play in an attacking role similar to Fontas, though the players are different. Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos is a free agent after his contract with Rangers expired this summer as well.

D.C. will likely look for an offensive reinforcement to complement Benteke, the team’s leading scorer. Fountas was the team’s second top scorer, with six goals, before his departure. No DC player other than Benteke has more than three goals in the league. – Tom Bogert

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(Photo: Randy Litzinger/Getty Images)