Osorio falsely accused of implying MLS refs are racially biased

Juan Carlos Osorio 5 (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                        Photo by ISIphotos.com

Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio had his issues with Saturday night's match vs. Houston, and his issues with referee Baldomero Toledo, but none of those issues had to do with race and whether Toledo and other MLS referees are targeting Hispanic players.

Contrary to this report from the New York Post soccer blog, which stated that Osorio accused MLS referees of being racially biased, Osorio never made a comment relating to referees and their perceived mistreatment of Hispanic players.

What Osorio did do was make a comment about all four of the Red Bulls players receiving red cards this year being Hispanic, but he did so in acknowledgment of a trend he wasn't necessarily happy with. Jorge Rojas, who drew a red card for an arm to the face of Brian Mullan, fell into the stereotype of the hot-tempered Hispanic player, something Osorio wasn't happy about.

"Right, I know, all Hispanic players, eh," Osorio said when asked about his team's four red cards this season. "Today I told my team what I thought coming into this game and unfortunately we were too quick to react a couple of times."

Osorio believed that Rojas allowed himself to get caught up in the Dynamo's physical game, then pointed out Seth Stammler's own reaction to a rough challenge as evidence that being upset with the Dynamo's play wasn't something limited to Hispanic players.

"To be fair to everybody, I don't know if you guys saw what happened just prior to their goal. There's an incident, there's a bad tackle to Seth (Stammler), and Seth is not Hispanic, and he reacted, and that's all my comments. I'm not going to say anything else."

The incident in question with Stammler occurred in the second half when Stuart Holden came in hard with a studs-up challenge that Stammler had to jump to avoid. Stammler responded by grabbing Holden's jersey as the players ran up field. Holden's challenge was one of a handful of harsh challenges throughout the night, including the first-half tackle that led to Carlos Johnson suffering a broken left foot, a tackle that failed to draw a card from Toledo.

Holden's challenges, along with the Dynamo's overall physical approach to the match (Houston out-fouled the Red Bulls 17-8) didn't surprise Osorio, but the Red Bulls coach did sound disappointed with Toledo's failure to issue any yellow cards to Houston for its physical play (aside from one to forward Ade Akinbiyi)_.

"All I can say is I saw it coming," Osorio said. "Not the red card, but something, and not necessarily with Jorge, but it's just the nature of the game when you play against Houston."

So why the confusion in Osorio's statement? His "all Hispanic players" comment was clearly misunderstood by some, especially since Osorio was trying hard not to be critical of the referee. The comment was also misunderstood even though Osorios follow-up comment about Seth Stammler's reaction to a Stuart Holden tackle provided some context.

Osorio accusing MLS refs of being racist against Hispanics because of Rojas' red card wouldn't exactly make sense consider A) Baldomero Toledo is Hispanic and B) Hispanic referees have issued three of the four red cards the Red Bulls have received this year.

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60 Responses to Osorio falsely accused of implying MLS refs are racially biased

  1. Primetown says:

    I have to disagree Ives. From the quotes given in both this piece and the one on the NY Post Blog, one can easily make an inference that Osorio believes that Hispanic players are being graded by the refs with a more harsh penalty.

    I took his comment about Seth as… well Seth had an altercation with Holden, he’s not Hispanic, and there’s no card.

  2. John says:

    Jermey Hall got a Red and he’s not Hispanic.

  3. JesseMT says:

    Ives – I agree that it seems doubtful he was implying racial bias, but if his comments are being misunderstood, what was he actually trying to say?

    Whatever he was trying to communicate, he did so inartfully.

  4. SayervilleFC says:

    What John said.

  5. Primetown says:

    To John…

    You are incorrect about Hall. His family is from Central America. I forget which country. Maybe someone else can help here.

  6. SayervilleFC says:

    When you start a lineup that features a lot of Hispanic players and you have a team that commits a lot of red cardable fouls, odds are a lot of your players that get tossed are going to be Hispanic.

    Osorio was a fool for even bringing up the race of the players ejected, especially since he was wrong in saying all of the ejected Ted Bulls are Hispanic.

  7. Mike says:

    I think JCO;s words (a latino) was taken out of context by a reporter (a non-latino) and therefore was miswritten.

    ives, maybe you should start interviewing JCO in spanish, eh? :_)

    or at least one of your staff memebers could!

  8. Ives Fan says:

    Jeremy Hall is half Puerto Rican

  9. sholata says:

    Holy Toledo, I would point out, is Hispanic. I don’t think he is against Latin players. That said, If I told you one player from Team A broke the foot of a player on Team B, and other kicked the face of a player on Team B, would you assume the lone red card issued went to a player on Team B. No, Toledo isn’t prejudiced. He’s just inconsistent to the point of being incompetent.

  10. SayervilleFC says:

    Thanks for the info about Hall being Puerto Rican, Ives, I did not know that.

  11. This Guy says:

    Sounds like alot of blame passing from JCO. He should probably grow up and quit whining.

  12. David W says:

    I heard JCO on the MSG postgame show and he said that the red card was deserved, which it was. I think the NY Post reporter is trying to make something out of nothing.

    The referee just screwed up in his treatment of Houston’s fouls and in cautioning Angel for what is a typical captain’s conversation with the referee. Still, Angel has been wearing his captain’s armband on his wrist, so maybe Toledo couldn’t tell he was the captain.

  13. huricano says:

    Blaco gets great treatment. Haven’t seen the comments, but I think MLS refereeing is universally mediocre.

  14. Ives says:

    Some points to clarify:

    Jason, it’s easy to misunderstand any comment depending on the context it is placed in. The Post piece put Osorio’s comments in a very bad, and completely incorrect context, and if that’s what you read first and have spent the day believing, I wouldn’t expect you to then read the same (or similar) quotes in my story and suddenly erase what you first read from your memory. All that said, what Osorio actually said, and what was inferred from the Post post, were about a country mile apart.

    Having actually been there at the press conference, and having actually spoken to Osorio afterwards, it was pretty clear to me what Osorio’s issues were with the ref (and they had nothing to do with Toledo targeting Hispanics). I didn’t even think there’d be a controversy from Osorio’s comments, especially considering nobody bothered to follow up with questions regarding a supposed claim of bias. Now, if I had taken Osorio’s comments as his saying that MLS refs are biased against Hispanics I sure as hell would have followed up by asking him to clarify his position.

    Jesse, when Osorio said “All Latinos, eh” he was basically acknowledging and accepting that it was something the team needed to work on. The statement had more to do with Johnson and Rojas than Jeremy Hall, whose red card most folks don’t feel was deserved anyway. Carlos Johnson lost his cool against Houston in Houston after being fouled over and over and got a red. The same thing happened to Rojas, so Osorio realizes his foreign players need to better handle the hard challenges that are destined to come.

    Lastly, Hall is Half-Puerto Rican, half-Panamanian, but grew up in the United States.

  15. LJ says:

    as my father would say “sssssstupidddddd”

    as stupid as grouping a diverse array of people as “latino”

    Spanish, Mexican, Honduran, Puerto Rican, Peruvian, Bolivian, Argentine.

    All Hispanic, Not at all the same.

  16. CSD says:

    Angel has the captain’s arm band that doesn’t mean he can say whatever he wants to the referee. Telling the referee that he has a bias against your team after your player elbowed someone in the face and then tried to kick him in the head is worthy of a yellow card. If Angel wants to be a captain get his player off the field after a red card and show some respect for the game. Rojas reentering the field to confront another player after getting sent off deserves a longer suspension than one game.

  17. Sam says:

    What I still want to know is why Osorio is not coaching the US team yet?! The guy is pure quality.

  18. Mike Caramba says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Ives. His comment still seems a little weird, but you were there and I’m happy to trust your assessment. Your point about no follow-ups is well taken, too.

  19. Justin O says:

    Ives – I share Jesse’s confusion about what Osario was trying to say. And after reading the third paragraph of your response above, I’m still confused. Was he making a sarcastic comment about sterotypes associated with Latino players? This is still very unclear.

  20. ManicMessiah says:

    I suppose we can assume Osorio was not one of the coaches who said the officiating was improved this year?

  21. Matt in Louisville says:

    After reading Osorio’s comments, I’m not sure what he was trying to say. I’m not sure how one can say that he was definitely not implying refs are racially biased.

    Of course, the NY Post went way over the line in their accusations. What’s new? The NY Post is a horrible publication.

    I would like a clarification from Osorio though. Why even bring up the fact that all four are Hispanic? And why bring up that Stammler made a hard foul and is not Hispanic? Did someone at the press conference ask him if he was saying all Hispanics are hot heads? It is all very confusing and deserves some clarification. If a white coach had said this, there would deservedly be a major outcry.

  22. Ken says:

    Come on everyone the Refs have been Prejudiced against New York and everyone knows it. I am one who goes to everygame and yes the REFS would have been shot if they were in Europe. Yes ROJAS got a read but whoever he was involved with also started it and should have been given a RED also. HOw about Johnsons broken foot also a red card. Lets be fair JCO is right and any good coach should complain!. The refs sucked especially on Saturday and the league should punish them for their one sided play.

  23. Matt in Louisville says:

    I always appreciate when someone says “I’m a fan” or “I go to all of the games.” Then I know to ignore the rest of the post. Everyone in the world hates my team.

  24. Max says:

    The way I read that quote he either meant:

    “Our hispanic players are more likely to get red cards because of some kind of bias.”


    “the way hispanics play, they get more red cards”

    Either way I still feel he is using race in some way, and I didn’t read the Post version before seeing this. I’m not necessarily bothered by it either way, but I can understand why some others might be.

  25. Joey says:

    I am sorry to say that MLS does have bias against hispanic players.

  26. johnny fc says:

    I understand where JCO is coming from the officials are rubbish in the mls. Juan Pablo got a yellow for dissent isnt it his job as captian to differ in opinion when a red card is issued. if i was don garber i would boot the whole lot of them and start hiring new refs.

  27. JoeW says:

    I wasn’t there, Ives was and I trust his interpretation of what JCO said. I would also argue that even being charitable, JCO really phrased this poorly. 4 Red Cards is a very ridiculously small set to generalize off of. He could have easily have said “all outside players, eh!” because Rojas, Johnson and Hall were all playing outside mid or back roles when ejected–would that mean that refs have it out for RBNY’s outside players but tolerate or fail to see similar play by central players? Of course not–that would be laughable. I think it’s a statistical anomaly that all 4 are “latino”. Hall is realistically an American–he was in Bradenton and a U17 player, plus U.Md, Johnson from CR and played in Norway, Rojas from Venezvuela. To try and lump all 4 of the ejections into one category (ie: “latino”) is over-analyzing stuff.

  28. Adam R. says:

    I was also at the press conference, and in no way did it seem like Osorio was implying racial bias from the official.

    If anything I thought he was rather sardonically commenting on the general stereotype that Latin players are overly emotional. Which explains why he brought up Seth Stammler as a counter example.

    What I can wrap my head around is why he even mentioned it at all. Has this stereotype been inferred by the press or others towards players on his teams in the past?

  29. E says:

    Ives, I have to disagree with your last assertion, that is, that the referee could not have racist intentions b/c he is hispanic/latino himself. People often discriminate against members of their own groups. Hiding behind the excuse that “I’m one of them therefore its not discrimination” its simply not a valid defense.

    Not that I disagree with you on the referee’s intentions. I just wanted to point out an often used false defense.

  30. lorenzo says:

    Sorry, Ives I think you’re picking sides a bit too quickly here. I completely agree that the Post is taking it out of hand and making something out of nothing, but JCO’s “All Hispanic players” comment seems awkward at best and immature at worst.

    I just don’t see why you are giving the guy a pass for once again shifting the blame. Rojas completely deserved the red card he got. No doubt about that one, but the way you described that one foul seems to discredit your whole argument with the usual tinge of homer-ism. Which is unfortunate b/c you have a point about the post.

    I just don’t get why you have to defend JCO to a fault, he’s not doing himself any favors, why are you. This is NYC he’s got to be able to deal with reporters acting like they work for the Post.

  31. Modibo says:

    This kind of comment is so hard to interpret without a full presentation of the speaker’s inflection, emphasis, hand gestures, facial expressions, pauses and timing, and so on. It’s like trying to convey irony in an email to people you don’t know (or trying to convey it on a message board!). Very difficult to do if you just take the verbal content and remove all the other features of speech that allow us to subtly suggest the meaning to people we’re conversing with.

    With all due respect to Ives, both his report and the Post’s are second-hand and rely mainly on the text of Osorio’s words, though Ives does give a bit more of the context in terms of the rest of the discussion (lack of followup questions for example).

    Assuming Osorio is suggesting that Hispanic players are more hot-headed, were he not Latin himself, he might be in hot water for stereotyping those players based on their ethno-cultural if not racial background.

    Not that Osorio himself is some impetuous hothead because of his background. It makes the whole thing even more puzzling, actually.

  32. lorenzo says:

    Jeez, i just went back and read the Post blog, and if anything you should be calling Mr. Lewis out for thinking Hispanics are a race.

    Bottom line- JCO should have avoided the Hispanic line. And after he said it he should have been clear that he wasn’t trying to say Toledo singles out Hispanics. JCO is the coach and he needs to be careful about his diction.

  33. Annoyingmous says:

    Actually, I’m more interested in Ives’ behavior here.

    The Post’s blog made an accusation about what Osorio said and meant. That report by the Post was either right or wrong. If it’s right, JCO deserves to catch hell. If it’s wrong, the Post deserves to catch hell.

    But what did Ives do here?

    Ives did not report “Osorio denies the Post’s report, and claims he was falsely accused.” Ives did not report the Coach’s response, players’ comments, or a statement from the Red Bull organization.

    Instead, Ives reported “Osorio falsely accused.” Not “Osorio claims he was falsely accused,” but “Osorio falsely accused.”

    I’m sorry, but that’s not reporting. It’s not reporting even if it’s 100% true that JCO has been falsely accused. It’s acting as a agent for JCO. It’s acting like you’re in the pocket of one of the subjects you cover.

    Come on, Ives.

  34. ETJ says:

    Ive read all the comments and Id like to second Max. Truly what is the point of Osorio even mentioning the fact that the players receiving cards are Hispanic? Is he suggesting that Hispanics play dirtier? Or is he suggesting that refs are naturally biased against Hispanic players because of prejudices towards them? Furthermore, the idea that Toledo cant be prejudiced against Hispanics because he is Hispanic is nonsense. Overall, I prefer to believe that soccer is a sport that transcends racial issues and unites people of all backgrounds; so its unfortunate these comments were made unless the allegations against the refs are correct

  35. Elliott says:

    Yeah, even though the quality of refereeing has improved in MLS, it is still woefully inconsistent. I dont think there is any racial bias, just a lottery of cards being tossed out game to game

  36. live from somewhere says:


    I’m not sure I understand. If all the evidence adds up to Osorio being misquoted and we find out indeed that his words were chopped and screwed to make it seem like he made a claim of racial bias, would be ives really be wrong in reporting this? I mean there is a world of difference from blogs like http://www.goalseattle.com and Ives’. Further, from Ives’ comment, it is apparent he was there, heard the comments first hand, and would be in a perfect position to comment. Nothing all that immoral with standing up to defend another human being against potentially troubling misrepresentation, especially concerning race.

  37. Dannyc58 says:


    Can you clarify why he mentioned Seth? Is he saying he SHOULD have gotten a card? If so, isn’t he implying bias by the refs against hispanics, and using Seth NOT getting a card as “evidence”?

    I’m not accusing, just trying to clarify because I find both blog entries (yours and the posts) a bit confusing…


  38. MasterShake says:

    So let me get this straight..Juan Pablo gets a yellow card for talking to the ref and Stuart Holden doesn’t get any cards for breaking Johnsons foot and coming in studs up at Seth Stammler.

  39. Dancy says:

    DC United sure seems to be giving up a lot of goals on easy headers right in front of the goal. Most of DC’s defenders are white, and we all know white people can’t jump. Although Rodney Wallace and Clyde Simms are black and still seem to get beat a lot in the air.

  40. Gary says:

    blanco SHOULD get more cards on his diving. i guess all the autographed jerseys he hands out pays off.

  41. Ives says:

    Annoyingmous (or Bootsy), you can take my post anyway you want to but the fact remains that I gave my take on what I believe actually happened. My goal is always to inform my readers and make sure they have the best information possible. That was the case here.

    And Lorenzo, it’s not about picking sides but about giving what I stand by as the accurate take on what was said and meant by Osorio. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was Osorio, Dom Kinnear or Bruce Arena. If someone’s quotes are completely misrepresented and I was there and know that they were then I’m going to write that.

    As for the Toledo being incapable of being prejudiced against Hispanics thing, the implied point of Osorio’s statements was with regard to the FOUR red cards the team has received, not with the one card. So if people are going to try and stretch and suggest that Osorio’s line was implying that he thinks Hispanics have been getting raw deals on those cards, then he’d be implicating not one, but three different Hispanic referees. That, my friends, would be absurd.

    In the end, Osorio’s “Hispanics” line was a throwaway line. Adam R said it best with his description. Did Osorio have to say it? Probably not, but I’m not sure he should be blamed for not knowing that his words could be so badly misrepresented.

    And Dannyc58, Osorio’s mention of Stammler’s reaction to Holden’s challenge was made to show that it wasn’t just Hispanic players who were unhappy with the rough treatment by Houston.

  42. paul says:

    Osorio was being either ironic, wry, or droll. The context seemed clear from Ives’ first telling, his post settled the matter. Dancy, quite funny, made me smile.

  43. cj says:

    Rojas deserved a red on Saturday night and it was so stupid to throw a forearm shiver right in front of the linesman. Even stupider was he wouldn’t leave the field.

    The behavior reminded a lot of the Mexican National Team. When the heat gets cranked up they respond with retaliation and just plain lose their heads.

    It is called discipline coach, and it sounds like you aren’t teaching your players any of it.

  44. coach don says:

    and, truth be told – seth stammler is from the southside of columbus, ohio. they have two taco bell restaurants whereas the northside has none. so there goes that theory…

  45. andy says:

    If we can use blanco and maruffo ties to mexico in the shirt toss incident, JCO is not off

  46. Sean Monaghan says:

    Todays show:

    Kanye West “George Bush hates black people.”

    Osorio ” The MLS hates hispanic people.”

    (cries of outage)


    and BTW…Rodney Wallace is Costa Rican

  47. Kahlva says:

    It would be great to focus on the ridiculously physical play of Houston. No cars for breaking Johnson’s foot?? No card for a studs up challenge on Stammler?

    And, I’m sorry, but Rojas was falling down after getting repeatedly hacked. Yes, his arm flew out as he fell. But not intentional (he’s stunned that he’s the one getting that card). Also he did not “re-enter” the field. He was walking ON the field past the goalie when the goalie started yammering at him. It’s unfortunate that he lost his cool that much, but let’s get all the facts straight.

    And the yellow against Angel is stupid. Especially in view of the fouls
    Houston was getting away with.

  48. Yet another stupid nickname says:


    “Annoyingmous (or Bootsy)”

    I wondered if you’d do that.

    “you can take my post anyway you want to but the fact remains that I gave my take on what I believe actually happened.”

    I have no doubt that it’s what you believe actually happened. Furthermore, I have no reason to think that what you think actually happened *didn’t* — I have no reason to think you’re wrong. For all I know, you’re 100% correct. I’m simply addressing a stylistic issue, but one I think is important. If you’re reporting what you think Osorio meant (but cannot possibly know, since you’re not him and are not privy to the thoughts inside his head), then reporting it as your opinion rather than fact would be appropriate, wouldn’t it? But that’s not how you wrote it, here.

    The Post took a quote and added interpretation on it. Your position is that their interpretation is wrong — and for all I know, you’re absolutely right there. But you didn’t write “my interpretation was different from theirs, and seems to make more sense to me because . . . .” You wrote “their interpretation was wrong,” which is a *very* different thing for a journalist to write.

  49. bkfiv says:

    Waa waaa waaa. Houston plays physical and that’s not nice. Johnson, that has 2 red cards in his first 10 games got hurt and noone likes us.

    For me, and the rest of the league’s safety, watching Houston foul everyone (which is tough to watch) is still safer than having Carlos Johnson running around angry and reckless. Jesus, wonder what he’ll play like when he gets back and he’s really angry.

    OSORIO RULES !!!!!

  50. aristotle says:

    I am so tired of this garbage. Everything is racism. If Osorio wasn’t making a case for racism, how do you explain such comments? Is it possible you are being influenced by race Ives? I especially love racism when it’s a person of the same race being racist against his own race! I can just imagine a white guy calling another white guy a racist for singling him out! That’s it for me. Osorio is an absolute a*s. He needs to go. Then he can say he was fired because of his race!

  51. inkedAG says:

    The fact that Houston did a DC-style hack job on Saturday and received only one yellow card and RBNY gets a Red and a yellow (both of which were questionable), there is some sort of bias against RBNY. Clint Mathis’ career in a Metro/RBNY jersey is a prime example. I can’t say what or where the bias stems from, but refs seem to be quite card happy when it comes to the NY/NJ team.

  52. spartak says:

    Red carding Rojas was a blessing in disguise; we played better 10 without him; he tends to slow down the game and is constantly caught up in dribbling. Guevara is gone but his deeds are still with us. Hispanic players constantly overreact, to the faults and to referee’s decisions, sorry, but this is obvious.

  53. Sean Monaghan says:

    LOL wow Kahlva. How can you even try to say that was an accident? That was a UFC style elbow

  54. Haig says:

    I don’t really whine about referees. If you’re good enough to deserve to win, a bad call or two shouldn’t be enough to stop you. But a bunch of MLS refs are doing a terrible job of managing the game prior to the point where NY players stupidly retaliate.

    Fact is, Rojas deserved a red. But the rep on NY is obviously that they can’t handle physical play, so opponents are tackling very hard and often late, and refs aren’t doing much about it.

    Easiest solution for NY would be for Osorio to get his players under control. Smartest solution for MLS would be to get refs to warn/eject players early for their crude tactics. I wouldn’t bet on either thing happening.

  55. kofix5 says:

    In the first game against houston, which was johnson’s first game, holden and the other left sided player were ganign up on him the whole game. they never got carded. then near the end of the game johnson gave that doosh bag holden a nice hard tackle ( deserving of a foul ) and he got red carded. then in this last game holden breaks johnson’s foot. hmmmm…..there might be a connection there.
    i think holden is still making up for getting his butt kicked in england and he’s trying to play the enforcers role.

  56. Nickname 428/J says:

    Haig: you can go further. There’s no referee in this league for whom I’m confident of their ability to maintain control of the physicality of a match over the full 90 minutes. Thus, you see a lot of matches where play gets progressively more and more physical until things get so bad that the referee goes berserk and starts carding anything and everything. Tim Weyland is emblematic of this; but his games are far from the only examples. And you’re certainly right that since it’s been this way for quite a while, there’s no reason to think it’s going to change anytime soon.

  57. HM says:

    The beat goes on…

    (1) Hispanic players commit fouls and draw cards, but none of the Hispanics who received cards deserved them

    (2) Hispanic coach claims racism, but then says its not his fault he’s playing the race card

    (3) Hispanic writer assures us that no Hispanic is guilty

  58. CT says:

    Three points:

    Rojas deserved the red. He was frustrated and deliberately swung his elbow at the tackler, making contact with the side of Mullen’s head. Any objective observer viewing the video would agree and would have noticed that the AR and 4th official were both indicating to the CR that a red card was the proper punishment.

    A player being injured as a result of a fair challenge is not grounds for a card. Carlos Johnson is a hackmeister (Carlos leads the league in red cards) and got his foot stepped on.

    If Houston plays physically then what does NY do? NY is the fourth worst team in discipline on the leagues fair play table – worse than the Dynamo.

  59. Cary says:

    Put some skirts on ’em! Go Dynamo