SBD/July 26, 2013/Franchises

HBO's "Real Sports" Airs Segment On Alleged Racial Discrimination At MLS Chivas USA

Vergara was accused of purging non-Hispanic youth players from the organization
The ongoing lawsuit filed by former MLS Chivas USA youth coaches Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos against their former team was examined on HBO's "Real Sports" this week. HBO's Bryant Gumbel said, "Players and coaches who have been recently fired, cut or traded away from" the team "claim they were purged only because they don’t have the right ethnic background to suit their owner," Jorge Vergara. HBO's Soledad O'Brien said Calichman and Chronopoulos "had had enough" after Vergara acquired the team and began an attempt to purge non-Hispanic youth players from the organization. Soon after they said that they were "called in to meet separately" with new Chivas USA President Jose David." Calichman said David "proceeded to tell me that Chivas was going back to their Mexican roots and there was really no place for me. ... I sat there in kind of shock and said, 'My God, this is what it feels like to feel discrimination.'" Chronopoulos added they told him their meeting "has nothing to do with your performance" as a coach. O'Brien added both men "received termination letters" and were replaced by two coaches "who could speak Spanish, though neither was Mexican." O'Brien noted, "There weren't just changes throughout Chivas' youth academy. Their professional team was also being overhauled. Out was their American coach. In was a Mexican coach. In 2012 there were just three players of Mexican descent. This year, the majority of the team is either Mexican or Mexican-American." O'Brien noted Chivas USA is "deeply rooted in last place" in the Western Conference and that the team also is "doing badly at the gate." O'Brien said, "MLS declined our request for an interview" ("Real Sports," HBO, 7/23).

GARBER'S TAKE: MLS Commissioner Don Garber in an e-mail wrote, "We are well aware of the allegations made by ex-players and employees of Chivas USA. MLS has zero tolerance for discrimination or prejudice of any kind and have been deeply committed to diversity and fairness on our fields, in our stadiums and in our workplace. ... And although the allegations in this lawsuit raise serious issues, it would not be appropriate for us to say anything more while the litigation is ongoing" (Christopher Botta, Staff Writer).

A BAD LOOK FOR THE LEAGUE? In L.A., Kevin Baxter wrote one reason for Chivas USA's "steep decline is the decision" of Vergara to "tie the team more closely to Chivas of Guadalajara." The Mexican Chivas is "best known for having never used a non-Mexican player and Vergara has tried to turn [the] MLS team into a pipeline of talent for that team" (LATIMES.com, 7/24). Also in L.A., Phil Wallace wrote the piece "represented the most publicity that the team has received in years." It also "illustrated the sad state of affairs for MLS' most troubled franchise" (LAOBSERVED.com, 7/24). NBCSPORTS.com's Richard Farley wrote "beyond Chivas USA, who are obviously making this bed for themselves," the report was a "black eye" for MLS. As O'Brien "stood in a production studio, reading the league’s words in front of a televised league logo, you felt the helpless, hapless situation MLS has allowed itself to embrace." Given the scope of MLS in the "broader landscape, this still has the potential to blow over." Ten minutes on subscription cable "isn’t going to define this issue." However, if Chivas USA "continues to flounder, make mistakes, and doesn’t somehow correct course, HBO’s work will be linked to over and over again by people who need examples of Vergara’s misdeeds" (NBCSPORTS.com, 7/24).
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Chivas USA, Franchises

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