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US Soccer Federation condemns racist abuse following defeat by Panama

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) has heavily condemned the online racist abuse directed at several of its players after a 2-1 defeat to Panama in the Copa America.

The incident occurred following the Group C match held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, where key players Folarin Balogun of AS Monaco and Juventus duo Timothy Weah and Weston McKennie were subjected to hateful comments on social media platforms.

The hostility reached a peak after a tense and dramatic game that saw Weah receive a straight red card in the 18th minute for an off-the-ball altercation, where he struck Panama’s Roderick Miller.

The 24-year-old winger, who previously played for Lille, expressed remorse for his actions, describing the incident as a “moment of frustration” and apologized to his teammates for leaving them a man down so early in the match.

Despite being reduced to ten men, the US team initially showed resilience, taking the lead through a spectacular goal by Balogun.

This marked his fifth goal in 14 appearances for the national team. However, the advantage was short-lived as Panama’s Cesar Blackman equalized just four minutes later with a well-placed shot from the edge of the box.

Panama, ranked 43rd by FIFA, eventually broke through the US defense seven minutes from full-time with a close-range goal by Jose Fajardo. The match saw further drama when Panama’s Adalberto Carrasquilla was also shown a red card for a reckless foul on US winger Christian Pulisic just before the final whistle.

In response to the abuse, the USSF released a statement on social media platform X, denouncing the discriminatory behavior: “There is absolutely no place in the game for such hateful and discriminatory behaviour. These actions are not only unacceptable but also contrary to the values of respect and inclusivity that we uphold as an organisation.”

The US team, currently ranked 11th in the world, now faces a crucial final group match against Uruguay. Both the US and Panama are tied on points, but the US holds a superior goal difference.

To secure progression to the last 16, the US must match or better Panama’s result in their match against Bolivia.