A West Ham United team walked off the field during a match at The Soccer Tournament (TST) on Thursday due to an alleged racial slur made by an opponent. Organizers of the seven-a-side tournament have withdrawn Dallas United from the team following an investigation.
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Anton Ferdinand led West Ham players off the pitch following the incident at the tournament in Cary, North Carolina. ESPN reports that Ferdinand told assembled media that he had left the pitch due to "racism" but did not expand further on what had been said.
A statement from West Ham said: "A member of the West Ham United team heard a racist term directed at them by an opposition player. Due to the lack of action taken on the pitch, the players made a collective decision to walk off the pitch as a team in support of our player.
"As a club, everyone at West Ham United stands shoulder to shoulder in solidarity against all forms of discrimination and abuse. Following the game, we welcome the decisive action TST organizers have taken in dealing with the situation and would like to thank all of the teams at the event who have reached out directly to offer us their support."
Dallas United had been leading 2-0 in the closing stages of the game when the incident occurred. The club, made up of amateur players from the Dallas area, said that their players had "unanimously decided to withdraw from the remainder of the competition. Our coaches and staff fully support the team's decision." Dallas United have no affiliation to MLS side FC Dallas.
Tournament organizers said: "After conducting an investigation into the final moments of the match between West Ham United and Dallas United, we have concluded that Dallas United violated TST's code of conduct. We have been in dialogue with leadership from both clubs and we are all aligned that the best path forward is Dallas United withdrawing from competition. All parties involved are unified in wanting to make a statement against racial insensitivity. We seek to run an event that is not only fiercely high stakes for all competitors, but also one in which all competitors feel safe and protected."
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TST's inaugural event has brought together 32 clubs from around the world, including representatives of West Ham, Borussia Dortmund and Wrexham. Among the former players involved in the competition are Cesc Fabregas, Landon Donovan and Carlton Cole. Its winners will win $1 million.