The National Women's Soccer League opened an investigation after Chicago Red Stars defender Sarah Gorden said she and her boyfriend were racially profiled by a Houston Dash security guard after the team's match in the Challenge Cup in Houston.
The Dash announced in a statement Monday that the NWSL's "formal investigation" is "underway."
Gorden posted a Twitter thread that went viral Saturday after the game, detailing how she and her boyfriend were allegedly targeted by a BBVA Stadium security guard when her boyfriend attempted to speak to her near the field. Both Gorden and her boyfriend are Black.
Gorden tweeted: “My boyfriend came to our game against the Houston Dash. After the game he came down the steps to talk to me. We were immediately (before he was close to me) followed by security and told he would be arrested if he came close."
My bf came to our game against @HoustonDash + after the game he came down steps to talk to me. We were immediately (before he was close 2 me)followed by security and told he would be arrested if he came close. Meanwhile white players were talking to white fam all over the stadium
Gorden said the racial profiling became evident in comparison to white players and family members.
“At first I didn’t realize this was a racial issue until I saw white Houston Dash players surrounding the stadium talking closely to their family and we were the only ones targeted,” Gorden wrote. "This is just another reason why we kneel."
Chicago Red Stars' Sarah Gorden, front, plays the ball as Houston Dash's Bri Visalli defends during the second half of an NWSL Challenge Cup. (Photo: The Associated Press)
The Dash initially apologized before a larger investigation was opened, citing COVID-19 safety being partially behind the incident. "We apologize to her and the club for anything that may have created an impression on the contrary," the statement read, in part.
Red Stars assistant coach Scott Parkinson doubled down on Gorden's claims on Saturday, writing: “My instincts told me they were being unfairly treated because of the color of their skin. … It seemed to me that Sarah and her 3 Black friends were the only ones being addressed in this way and it was extremely upsetting."
Red Stars team members released a joint statement that read, in part: "It is unacceptable that a player is left in tears due to the actions of a stadium employee."
Gorden is a member of the Black Women’s Player Collective and has used her platform to be an activist for social justice and fighting against systemic racism. The BWPC released a statement that said: "It was disheartening to see that the Houston Dash's initial response to Sarah's account of the event was to deny the occurrence of any discrimination before an investigation begun."
Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle and Alyssa Naeher were among the U.S. Women's National Team players who posted the BWPC statement to their Instagram stories in support of Gorden.
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