By IVES GALARCEP
The HBO program Real Sports sent shockwaves through Major League Soccer on Tuesday night with the airing of their segment on Chivas USA and claims of racial discrimination being aimed at the club.
The program interviewed former Chivas USA youth coaches Dan Calichman and Teddy Chronopoulous, who have filed a lawsuit against the club for allegedly being fired because they weren’t Mexican or Mexican-American.
The program focused on changes at the club that took place after Jorge Vergara took full ownership of the club last fall, with Calichman, Chronopolous and the mother of a former Chivas USA youth player both offering examples of instances of what they considered to be discriminatory practices. Among the practices was having all employees and players (including youth players) fill out questionnaires including information on the ethnicity of their parents.
D.C. United defender James Riley, one of the many players to leave Chivas USA after last season, was also interviewed and stated that he believes the reason he was traded was because he is not Mexican or Mexican-American.
Chivas USA had former player, and former Mexican National Team legend, Francisco “Paco” Palencia speak for the club for the segment in an interview that was, at times, uncomfortable and ended abruptly with Palencia offering little explanation for the accusations levied at the club.
Palencia struggled to provide answers and explanation for the charges being levied against Chivas USA in his Real Sports interview, but he did speak out on Tuesday night about the charges of discrimination being aimed at the club. Palencia spoke to ESPN Deportes program Futbol Picante about the charges against Chivas USA, and staunchly defended the club:
“Our captain is one hundred percent American. The best player from our academy is North American. We are happy with him and are certain he will play for the (U.S. Men’s National Team). That is all we look for. Our posture in the United States is to bring the best players so the team can improve,” Palencia told Futbol Picante.
“There are Mexican Americans, Colombians, Ecuadorians and Americans,” Palencia added. “One of our trainers is Irish. We recent added Carlos Bocanegra, who was captain of the United States. These accusations have no foundation.
“One of our directors is Dutch,” Palencia added. “I don’t know from where they want to dramatize this theme in order to magnify it and turn into a negative theme. We are calm at Chivas USA, and the only thing we want is people of quality, and we want changes, but our goal isn’t to Mexican-icize the team.”
MLS officials declined requests for on-camera interviews for the HBO Real Sports segment, but commissioner Don Garber did issue the following statement to Real Sports:
“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. We are proud of our record in those areas and expect our owners and clubs to live up to the League’s high standards. 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.”
What did you think of the program? Shocked by the allegations? Think Chivas USA is in serious trouble? See MLS stepping in, or do you think recent changes at Chivas USA can be taken as a sign that the club has learned from its mistakes?
Share your thoughts below.