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5 women soccer players claim BYU crowd yelled N-word at them while kneeling during national anthem

Less than a month after a Duke University women’s volleyball player made unproven claims that a crowd member at Brigham Young University used racial slurs toward her, the Utah school has been hit with another claim regarding racism at a sporting event.

Five women soccer players from a visiting team allege that before a game at BYU in 2021, students called them the N-word while they were kneeling during the national anthem.

Flags fly during a game between the BYU Cougars and the Oregon State Beavers at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah, on Oct. 13, 2012.
(George Frey/Getty Images)

The players were protesting racial and social injustice when they heard the shouts from the crowd.

“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 anonymously. “And when brought to the attention of the BYU coaching staff, there was no real response or sense of, like, alarm.”

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Four of the woman’s teammates also spoke anonymously, claiming to hear the chants.

“I felt disappointed but not surprised. Backlash for kneeling was not new for our group. But to hear that in person was shocking,” the player added. “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.”

BYU told The Guardian it had not heard of “this specific concern” of racial slurs until the outlet reached out to the university, but said that the visiting team did reach out to the university about negative reaction to the protests.

General view of LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah, prior to a game between the Utah Utes and the Brigham Young Cougars on Sept. 9, 2017.

General view of LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah, prior to a game between the Utah Utes and the Brigham Young Cougars on Sept. 9, 2017.
(Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

SOUTH CAROLINA’S DAWN STALEY DEFENDS CANCELING BYU SERIES OVER UNFOUNDED RACIAL SLUR ALLEGATION

“[At] the match, which occurred [in 2021], BYU responded to a concern from the [visiting team] about fan reaction when players knelt during the national anthem. A public announcement, similar to one made earlier, reminding fans to be respectful, was repeated, and the game proceeded. We are not aware of any additional concerns being brought up during the game or any time thereafter. As we have stated, BYU will not tolerate racism in any form,” Jon McBride, BYU associate director for communications and media strategy, said in a statement.

The BYU Cougars get pumped up to take on the Florida State Seminoles in the Division I women's soccer championship at Stevens Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Dec. 6, 2021.

The BYU Cougars get pumped up to take on the Florida State Seminoles in the Division I women’s soccer championship at Stevens Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Dec. 6, 2021.
(Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

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BYU revealed it “had not found any evidence” that fans engaged in “racial heckling” at the Duke-BYU women’s volleyball game.

The Cougar women’s soccer team lost the 2021 national championship game to Florida State.

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