Major League Soccer team Chivas USA, which plays its home games in suburban Los Angeles, has been sued for race and ethnic discrimination by two former youth coaches. The coaches, both white, had worked for the team’s youth soccer academy for over a year. They claim they were fired because they are not Mexican or Latino.
According to the lawsuit, the problem began when Chivas USA was acquired by the owners of the Mexican professional team Chivas Guadalajara.
The suit claims that in a staff meeting, owner Jorge Vergara announced that non-Spanish-speaking employees would be fired. He asked Spanish-speaking employees to raise their hands, and then asked native English speakers to do the same.
According to one of the coaches, Chivas USA president Jose David asked him to collect ethnic and other data about the team’s players, coaches, academy students and their parents, identifying those with Mexican origins.
The suit claims that when the coaches subsequently complained to the team’s HR manager about discrimination and harassment, they were promised an investigation. But instead, David met with the two coaches and informed them that the team’s ownership wanted to take the team back to “its Mexican roots” and neither coach would have a place in that process.
The coaches, both former members of the U.S. national soccer team and former MLS players, were asked to resign for two weeks of severance pay. They declined and were fired.
Note: One possible motive for Chivas USA’s alleged preference for Mexican and Mexican-American personnel: Chivas USA is a feeder team for Chivas Guadalajara, which plays in Mexico’s top professional soccer league. Liga Mexicana rules say all but five members of each team’s roster must be of Mexican or Latin-American origin.