NEW YORK -- Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen, under investigation by Major League Soccer for racist remarks, said Sunday he will sell the team and two related clubs.
Hansen said he "will work diligently to try to ensure" the MLS team stays in Salt Lake City.
"After deep consideration and soul-searching, my wife Julie and I agree that the best way forward for the Real Salt Lake family is to assume new ownership and a refreshed vision," Hansen said in a statement on the Real Salt Lake website.
Hansen will sell Utah Soccer Holdings, which owns Real Salt Lake, the Utah Royals of the National Women's Soccer League and men's developmental club Real Monarchs, MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.
"MLS will work with Mr. Hansen on supporting the sale efforts for the company and will work closely with the club's executive staff to support the operations of the team during the transition period," Garber said.
Hansen took a leave of absence from the clubs while MLS and the NWSL looked into allegations he used racist language, with NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird applauding his move to sell the Royals.
"That decision is in the best interest of the club and the NWSL," Baird said. "We agree that the decision is the right one for the future of the Royals."
Allegations of racist remarks by Hansen surfaced in a report by The Athletic on Thursday, citing former Real Salt Lake scout Andy Williams.
Hansen was already under fire for comments about RSL players deciding to sit out a home match Wednesday in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
Hansen issued an apology and accepted responsibility for unspecified comments.
"I recognize that at times I have spoken too quickly, without pausing to consider the feelings or good intentions of others," Hansen wrote. "This is not acceptable and I assume full responsibility for allowing my words to travel unfiltered as to their significance and impact.
"I believe that communities are strengthened by diversity. I am truly sorry for offending and being insensitive to the plight of others. I seek to do better and commit to supporting and improving diversity and inclusion in my own community going forward."
Real and visiting Los Angeles FC decided not to play about an hour before their scheduled Wednesday kickoff, following the lead of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks and several Major League Baseball and MLS teams that sat down in protest of police shootings of African-Americans, including that of Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
While five of six scheduled MLS matches on Wednesday were not played, Hansen saw the move as a sign of "disrespect."
"It's like someone stabbed you and then you're trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward," he said in comments to a Utah radio station.
Garber said he "strongly disagreed" with those comments, adding, "Major League Soccer has zero tolerance for this type of language or conduct," while the NWSL said the allegations "run counter to everything the NWSL stands for."
Hansen apologized to fans who had come to the stadium for the match, planned as the first with a limited audience since MLS shut down its season in March over the Covid-19 pandemic.
© Agence France-Presse