Following a 2-1 victory over Loudoun United in USL Championship play on Tuesday night, New York Red Bulls II defender Mandela Egbo alleged via Twitter that Loudoun supporters had racially abused at least one RB2 player over the course of the match.
One of our young strikers kept his ultimate cool when monkey chants were aimed at him by these same section of fans behind the goal. I would hope that audio from the whole second half’s footage is being listened to very very closely by the powers that be. @USLChampionship https://t.co/FRbhUobSZd— Mandela Egbo (@mandela_e) May 19, 2021
In a quote-tweet of USL’s post celebrating Egbo’s match-winning penalty, the England youth international who may soon be back in the first team picture claimed that one of the club’s “young strikers” had been the target of racially-motivated monkey chants from supporters of Loudoun United, the DC United reserve side based out of suburban Virginia.
The general consensus is that the young striker in question was third-year RB2 forward Omar Sowe, a native of The Gambia raised in Harrison. The penalty clip quoted by Egbo includes some audible fan jeers that resemble derogatory monkey noises, though it is unclear whether Egbo is referring to anything from this specific moment as part of the allegations. Further support for Egbo’s allegations was provided by forwards Austin Brummett and Jeremy Rafanello.
It is unclear what steps would be next in the process. The past year in USL has seen suspensions handed down for players Omar Ontiveros and Junior Flemmings for racial and homophobic slurs respectively, but fan behavior is a different type of problem to tackle for league officials.
Still just over two years old as an entity, Loudoun United’s status as a reserve team with a negligible fan following makes meaningful punishment both in the stands and in the table difficult. But consequences for individual ticketholders could raised from a full investigation, and the pressure is on USL to draw the line somewhere as the gradual return of fans to sporting venues also appears to mark the unfortunate return of ugly fan behavior.
UPDATE (11:15am, May 19): USL has announced an investigation into the events of Tuesday night.
Statement on Fan Conduct During #LDNvNY Match pic.twitter.com/ukpKYm9nxk— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) May 19, 2021