Soccer Getty General Generic
Getty Images

Five women's soccer players from an opposing team are alleging that BYU fans chanted racial slurs at them during a 2021 match, according to the Guardian.

The players revealed to the Guardian that the fans used the N-word after members of this particular team began kneeling during the national anthem. In recent years, many professional and collegiate athletes have knelt during the national anthem as a way to protest social injustice and racism throughout the world.

"I just remember that there was like a consistent chant of 'stand up, N-words' during the anthem and right after," one of the players told the Guardian. "And when brought to the attention of the BYU coaching staff there was no real response or sense of, like, alarm.

"I felt disappointed but not surprised," the same player added. "Backlash for kneeling was not new for our group but to hear that in person was shocking. I think both the fans and coaching staff knew we wouldn't cancel the game after the incident, which once again shows this could be part of a bigger cultural issue within BYU as an institution."

Following these allegations, BYU's associate athletic director for communications and media strategy, Jon McBride, told the Guardian that the school "responded to a concern from the [visiting team] about fan reaction when players knelt during the national anthem" with a public announcement that reminded fans in attendance to be respectful of players' beliefs.

The Guardian also reported that a BYU coach was informed of the chants, and "seemed shocked and did ask" for an announcement to be made at the game.

"We are not aware of any additional concerns being brought up during the game or any time thereafter," McBride added. "As we have stated, BYU will not tolerate racism in any form."

This comes after a Duke volleyball player, Rachel Richardson, said that she was the target of racial slurs during a road match against BYU last month. The sophomore stated that she and her African American teammates were heckled. 

Duke eventually identified an individual they belived was heckling them and the individual was removed from the arena immediately. On Sept. 9, BYU said that they conducted an investigation, but didn't find any evidence of anything inappropriate that was shouted. However, they would welcome any new evidence.

"There will be some who assume we are being selective in our review," BYU said at the time. "To the contrary, we have tried to be as thorough as possible in our investigation, and we renew our invitation for anyone with evidence contrary to our findings to come forward and share it."

Following the investigation, BYU lifted the ban of the fan that was originally identified and removed from the arena during the match.