“I recognize that at times I have spoken too quickly, without pausing to consider the feelings or good intentions of others,” Hansen said in a statement. “This is not acceptable, and I assume full responsibility for allowing my words to travel unfiltered as to their significance and impact.”
He and his wife, Julie, decided the team needed a “new ownership and a refreshed vision,” his statement said.
“I believe that communities are strengthened by diversity,” he said. “I am truly sorry for offending and being insensitive to the plight of others. I seek to do better and commit to supporting and improving diversity and inclusion in my own community going forward.”
Hansen is the CEO and founder of the Wasatch Group, a real estate and holding company based in Logan, Utah. He said he will sell Utah Soccer Holdings, which, in addition to Real Salt Lake, counts Utah Royals FC of the National Women’s Soccer League and Real Monarchs of the second-division USL Championship among its holdings.
Hansen acquired full ownership of the team after buying founder Dave Checketts’ stake in 2013.
“No one supports equality more than this man. He actually read and gave out ‘The New Jim Crow’ book in support of Black Lives Matter,” she texted, according to the station.
CNN has reached out to Hansen and Real Salt Lake.
The MLS Players’ Association last week demanded an investigation and said that if the allegations were true, the league should force Hansen to sell them team. MLS said it was concerned about the allegations and reiterated its zero tolerance policy regarding such actions and behavior.
“It’s like someone stabbed you and then you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward,” Hansen told a Salt Lake City radio show. “That’s what it feels like. The disrespect was profound to me personally.”
The protest was particularly disappointing given the effort put forth to prepare Rio Tinto Stadium to host visitors, he said.
Nor did the comments please MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who said he appreciated Hansen’s efforts to build the sport at all levels but that his views did not reflect league values.
Coach fired last year
The league will work with Hansen on his sale of the team, it said Sunday. NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird applauded Hansen’s decision.
“Mr. Hansen’s contributions to the league’s growth and the continued development of soccer are notable, but we agree that the decision is the right one for the future of the Royals,” she said in a statement.
CNN’s Wayne Sterling, David Close, Jabari Jackson and Cesar Marin contributed to this report.