The Los Angeles Galaxy released Aleksandar Katai on Friday following public backlash over social media posts made by the soccer player’s wife.
The Major League Soccer team announced the news on social media with a post that read, “The LA Galaxy have mutually agreed to part ways with midfielder Aleksandar Katai.”
The 29-year-old Serbian soccer player’s wife, Tea Katai, shared posts on her personal Instagram account that many deemed to be insensitive. Some fans declared the posts to be “racist and violent.”
On Tuesday, she posted photos from George Floyd protests and the subsequent riots. One Instagram post had an NYPD SUV facing off against protesters, the vehicle would later attempt to drive through the crowd, knocking people to the ground. Tea Katai, who is also from Serbia, captioned the photo: “Ma pobij govna bre!,” which translated from Serbian to English means, “Kill the s***s!” Another since-deleted post had a photo of a sneaker store being looted, and she wrote, “Black Nikes Matter.” Tea Katai has made her Instagram account private.
One Galaxy fan showed up at Dignity Health Sports Park with a sign that read, “No Racists in Our Club.” The sign had Katai’s jersey number circled with a red slash through it.
The soccer player issued a statement on his Instagram:
The posts made by my wife, Tea Katai, on her social media platforms were unacceptable. These views are not the ones that I share and are not tolerated in my family.
Racism, particularly toward the Black community, is not only prevalent in the United States and Europe, but across the globe. I strongly condemn white supremacy, racism and violence towards people of color. Black lives matter.
This is a mistake by my family and I take full responsibility. I will ensure that my family and I take the necessary actions to learn, understand, listen, and support the black community. I understand that it will take time to earn back the support of the people of Los Angeles. I am committed to putting in the necessary work to learn from these mistakes and be a better ally and advocate for equality going forward.
I am sorry for the pain these posts have caused the LA Galaxy family and all allies in the fight against racism.
The Galaxy reached a financial agreement to buy out Katai’s contract, and the team does not have any further financial obligations to the player.
“We believe strongly that we’re a club that represents our staff, represents our players, represents our fans and our community,” Galaxy president Chris Klein said. “The decision, in that respect, was not a difficult one. We have to hold to those values. This is not a soccer decision.”
“It was very professional. I would not characterize it as tense at all,” Klein said. “He had a lot of hurt and remorse and was very understanding through this process.”