The LA Galaxy said it has released Serbian soccer star Aleksander Katai on Friday after his wife, Tea Katai, shared a series of “racist and violent” social media posts in response to the George Floyd protests occurring across the country.
The Major League Soccer club met with Katai on Thursday after it was made aware of two of his wife’s Instagram posts that she shared the day before. After fans protested outside the LA Galaxy stadium, the club announced in a one-sentence statement on Friday that it would drop Katai from its roster.
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The club said the two sides had “mutually agreed” to part ways.
“The LA Galaxy strongly condemn the social posts and requested their immediate removal,” the club said in a statement days before announcing Katai’s removal. “The LA Galaxy stands firmly against racism of any kind, including that which suggests violence or seeks to demean the efforts of those in pursuit of social equity.”
Tea Katai deleted the Instagram posts in question, but the first showed a picture of New York Police Department officers’ driving into a crowd of protesters, with a line in Serbian that translates to “kill those s—s,” The Associated Press reported.
The second post shows an alleged looter carrying a box of sneakers with the caption, “Black Nikes Matter.” A third post called protesters “disgusting cattle,” also in Serbian.
The 29-year-old Aleksander Katai, a new winger for the team who came from the Chicago Fire, had been taking part in voluntary individual workouts this week with Galaxy teammates at the club’s training complex, NBC Los Angeles reported. He had only played in two games with his new club before MLS suspended the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Katai said in his own Instagram post that his wife’s posts were a mistake for which he took responsibility, and he apologized “for the pain these posts have caused the LA Galaxy family and all allies in the fight against racism.”
“I strongly condemn white supremacy, racism and violence towards people of color,” Katai said. “Black lives matter.”
Phil McCausland is an NBC News reporter focused on rural issues and the social safety net.