Wayne Rooney says Taxi Fountas ‘is struggling mentally’ with being accused of using the n-word in a row with Inter Miami’s Damion Lowe and will miss DC United’s next game while an investigation continues
Taxi Fountas will stay in his native Greece with family over the weekend while an investigation into whether he racially abused an opponent in an MLS game continues.
Fountas has denied using the n-word in an exchange with Damion Lowe of Inter Miami. The incident is alleged to have happened in the second half of the game on Sep. 18 and Wayne Rooney, Fountas’s coach at DC United, substituted him off in the aftermath.
Speaking Thursday, Rooney said Fountas is spending time with his family over the weekend and staying in Europe after heading to Greece on international duty.
Wayne Rooney says Taxi Fountas is struggling with accusations that he racially abused Damion Lowe of Inter Miami in a recent Major League Soccer game
An altercation between the pair took place in the 62nd minute of the MLS game in September
‘It’s a serious situation and he is struggling a bit mentally with it,’ Rooney said. ‘The most important thing now is to give him the time to be with his family, and we await the outcome of the investigation.
‘Taxi is adamant that he hasn’t said the words which he was accused of. It’s been very difficult for him and his family, seeing things online and getting a lot of abuse.’
It means DC United is without Fountas for its game with against Montreal on Saturday night.
Fountas took to Instagram in the aftermath to deny the claims, saying: ‘That despicable racial slur is one I denounce and did not use. We had a hot discussion on the field. But I have not racially abused anyone. I firmly reject racism in any form. It is despicable.’
Inter Miami coach Phil Neville used to play alongside Wayne Rooney at Manchester United and praised his former team-mate for how he handled the situation.
‘There was a racist comment that was unacceptable,’ Neville said.
‘A word was used that I think is unacceptable in society. I think it’s the worst word in the world.
‘I must give massive, massive respect to Wayne Rooney for dealing with it in the way that he did. I have always known him as a class act and today he went up in my estimation more than he has ever done, more than any goal he has ever scored.’
After the referee spoke with the captains and managers, coach Phil Neville summoned his Inter Miami players on the sidelines to discuss whether they should continue playing
DC United boss Rooney then decided to take Fountas off the next time the ball went out of play
DC United’s Fountas took to Instagram to deny accusations that he racially abused Lowe
A DC United statement at the time added: ‘DC United are aware of the allegations involving a player during the match against Inter Miami. The club will work closely with Major League Soccer and Inter Miami to investigate the incident.’
DC is last in the Eastern Conference and seven points behind Toronto, which is second-last.
Rooney will likely turn to youth for the game as he plots a rebuild of the team for the 2023 season.