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Women’s soccer players say BYU crowd hurled racist slurs at 2021 match

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One month after Rachel Richardson, a Black volleyball player from Duke University, spoke out alleging the use of racist slurs by spectators during a match at Brigham Young University, another report of racism against visiting athletes at BYU has come out.

The Guardian published a report Friday stating that five women’s soccer players from an unnamed school had the n-word chanted at them when they chose to kneel for the national anthem during a game at BYU in 2021.

The players said they knelt as protest for racial and social injustice – a common practice among athletes – when they began hearing the slurs.

“I just remember that there was like a consistent chant of ‘stand up, n-words’ during the anthem and right after,” one of the five players told the Guardian. “And when brought to the attention of the BYU coaching staff there was no real response or sense of, like, alarm.”

The four other players individually confirmed the use of racist slurs by BYU spectators to the Guardian.

The Guardian reached out to Jon McBride, BYU’s associate athletic director for communications and media strategy, for comment, and he provided the following statement:

“Your inquiry is the first time we are hearing this specific concern. [At] the match, which occurred [in 2021], BYU responded to a concern from the [visiting team] about fan reaction when players knelt during the national anthem. A public announcement, similar to one made earlier, reminding fans to be respectful was repeated, and the game proceeded. We are not aware of any additional concerns being brought up during the game or any time thereafter. As we have stated, BYU will not tolerate racism in any form.”

The Guardian report comes after Richardson said the following as part of a statement on Twitter after the incident at her volleyball game:

“The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe. Both the officials and the BYU coaching staff were made aware of the incident during the game, but failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment.”

Following Richardson’s report of racist heckling, South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley offered her support to Richardson and her teammates, then chose to cancel a home-and-home series with the BYU women’s basketball team.

After Richardson spoke out, BYU conducted an internal investigation and announced in early September that no evidence to “corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event” had been found. Still, Staley has stood by her decision.