Tulsa Roughnecks' Bastidas has contract terminated after racist abuse accusation
The Tulsa Roughnecks have terminated the contract of midfielder Fabian Bastidas after he was accused of racially abusing an Oklahoma City Energy player during a USL match this weekend.
Following Saturday's game between the Roughnecks and OKC, Energy midfielder Atiba Harris posted on Twitter that a Tulsa player, later identified as Bastidas, had called him the N-word on two occasions.
Tonight in our @USLChampionship game; a player from @RoughnecksFC called me the N-word not once but twice on the field to try to insult me. I told the ref but the game cont'd 🤷🏾♂️...We really need to put a stop to this nonsense @EnergyFC. Love over hate— Atiba Harris (@AtibaHarris) April 28, 2019
Both the Roughnecks and USL president Jake Edwards issued statements vowing to investigate the matter. And after determining that Bastidas was the player involved, the Roughnecks took the step of severing ties.
"The Tulsa Roughnecks announced today the termination of Fabian Bastidas' contract with the club following his use of foul and abusive language during last night's match with OKC Energy FC," Tulsa said in a statement.
"The player's actions are a violation of the league's zero-tolerance policy, and do not represent the beliefs and values of our club -- nor the community we represent.
"As an organization, we sincerely apologize to Atiba Harris and OKC Energy FC, and will do what is necessary to prevent this type of behavior in the future."
It has not been confirmed whether Bastidas will receive any suspension at the league level after Tulsa's decision to part ways.
In a statement released on his Instagram account, Bastidas said: "Last night we played a game against our rival team, Oklahoma City Energy. I used terminology that I have used my entire life growing up in Brooklyn.
"In South America, New York, Portugal and everywhere else I've lived, we say it with love. Nothing malicious or racist was or ever will be intended by it."
Speaking to ESPN FC, OKC manager Steve Cooke said he approved of the punishment for Bastidas.
"What [Bastidas] said is a disgrace," said Cooke, who was told about the incidents after the match. "In any other walk of life it's wrong. In our walk of live, albeit on a soccer field, I think people at times can hide behind the veil of competition and say, 'Well, I just lost my emotion.' But that's too easy. In our industry, our profession, we have to be better."
As for Bastidas' contract termination, Cooke said he thought the punishment was "appropriate" and applauded the action taken by Tulsa.
"I think any player, any coach, any fan, any administrator, anybody involved in the game who uses any kind of derogatory language, racism, bigotry, homophobia, should be punished in the most severe way," Cooke said.
"I don't think there's a place for it in society -- and I know we're in a time of great divide and this is a hot-button topic -- but I also think in soccer given the fact that we've got people from so many different cultures and countries and backgrounds and great people from all walks of life from all corners of the earth, I think soccer has a great position to be leaders in this."
Bastidas, 25, is a Brooklyn, New York native, who was formerly on the books of Uruguayan side River Plate.
He signed with Tulsa just prior to the start of the season.