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Ex-Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha in 'tears' as MLS team owner criticises boycott

Former England Under 21 international says he wanted to leave Real Salt Lake City after the owner criticised players for boycotting a game over the police shooting of Jacob Blake

Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha, centre right, has hit back at owner Dell Loy Hansen after he said he felt "disrespected" by the decision not to play against Los Angeles FC on Wednesday. USA Today
Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha, centre right, has hit back at owner Dell Loy Hansen after he said he felt "disrespected" by the decision not to play against Los Angeles FC on Wednesday. USA Today

Former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha said he was "brought to tears" and wanted to leave Real Salt Lake City after the owner criticised players for boycotting a game over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Wednesday's match between Real and Los Angeles FC was called off about an hour before kick off, following the lead of other MLS squads as well as the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks and several Major League Baseball teams.

The boycotts were in protest at police shootings of African-Americans, including that of Blake. But RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen said he felt "disrespected" by the decision not to play.

"I was brought to tears this morning as I was listening to stories of what has happened over the last few days and knowing the owner isn't in agreement," Onuoha told the BBC World Service.

"I don't want to be here because I'm not here to play for someone who isn't here to support us.

"We are trying to create a bigger conversation but a lot of the people who are in power don't empathise or sympathise or do anything. They are more concerned with themselves."

Onuoha, 33, a former England Under 21 international, moved to Major League Soccer in 2018 after spells at Manchester City, Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers.

Hansen told radio station KXRK: "It's [boycott] like someone stabbed you and then you're trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward," adding "the disrespect was profound to me personally".

The MLS condemned the remarks and also said it was launching an investigation into alleged racist comments by Hansen, following a report by The Athletic quoting former RSL head scout Andy Williams.

Onuoha, who in June said he feared and distrusted the US police, said calling off Wednesday's game was the right thing to do when bigger issues were in play.

"It didn't feel right to be playing a game when people are trying to highlight a big conversation and things that are bigger than sport," he said.

"These are cries for help and for people at the very top to get behind us because that is where the biggest change can come, but we are being left and being criticised."

Updated: August 28, 2020 02:08 PM

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