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US defender Mark McKenzie targeted with online racial abuse

June 9, 2021 GMT
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United States' Mark Mckenzie (15) pressures Honduras' Diego Rodríguez during the first half of a CONCACAF Nations League soccer semifinal Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
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United States' Mark Mckenzie (15) pressures Honduras' Diego Rodríguez during the first half of a CONCACAF Nations League soccer semifinal Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — American defender Mark McKenzie was subjected to racial abuse on social media following his team’s 3-2 victory over Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League final.

“The amount of racial abuse and personal attacks on myself and family from ‘supporters’ and ‘non supporters’ just ain’t it,” McKenzie, who is Black, wrote on his Instagram Stories late Monday.

The posting included an example of the abuse.

“The racial abuse and attacks on myself, my teammates and our families just isn’t acceptable — not as athletes, not as HUMANS,” McKenzie added on Twitter on Tuesday night, capitalizing for emphasis. “There’s no denying it wasn’t my greatest performance in a massive match. I accept that. Mistakes aside, the remarks DURING and AFTER the match have no place in the beautiful game we love or in spaces supposed to unite. Supporters or non supporters, fans or not ... it’s about having respect for your fellow brothers and sisters from various corners of the earth because our diversity is what makes us so powerful. We as a people MUST do better and the organizations and corporations with the power to hand out repercussions NEED to step up and be held accountable as well. No more lip service — your either for positive change or part of the problem.”

The 22-year-old McKenzie, who plays for Genk in Belgium, had a giveaway Sunday night that led to Jesús Corona’s goal for Mexico after only 63 seconds and was whistled for a handball in the 119th minute. Ethan Horvath then saved Andrés Guardado’s penalty kick to preserve the win.

“It’s absolutely disgusting,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said Tuesday. “The guys in our business, professional sports, you take enough criticism about performance and about guys having an off game and saying you’re not a good player or something like that, and to bring something like race into it is absolutely disgusting and out of bounds and has no place for it. I’ve been following the players in England, as well, and now it hits closer to home, and we support Mark 100% and we don’t stand for any of that stuff. We have absolutely zero tolerance for things like that.

“And I wish there was a way to hold people like that more accountable. To me, people get on Twitter and get on Instagram or whatever and they get bold and they do things that they normally wouldn’t do in life. And I wish there was a way to hold them more accountable.”

McKenzie joined Genk from Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union in January.

Sunday’s match in Denver was paused for about three minutes in second-half stoppage time because of discriminatory fan chants. Mexico’s semifinal against Costa Rica last Thursday also was paused because of fan chants.

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