Mike Petke, the former coach of the MLS team Real Salt Lake, has broken his silence about his firing from the team this past weekend. He released a statement on Twitter saying that he got into a heated argument with a referee and used a homophobic slur. Petke has since apologized to the referee, but he was suspended for two weeks before being let go.
"On the matter involving the Panamanian official in the game against Tigres, while I'll never stop bringing passion and all my heart to what I do, it is true that I lost my temper and showed poor judgment,” Petke said in his statement. "That's why, before my termination, I willingly served the suspension imposed on me by both the league and the team and have already apologized to that official and the league.
"Much has already been said about the Spanish word I used and the different interpretations of it. Regardless of how my actions have been misinterpreted or twisted, I have always respected the rights of all individuals and always will.
"I hoped to continue coaching RSL and, in fact, just after the incident had signed an agreement with the team to do just that. It saddens me that while I held up my end of the bargain, including not speaking about this matter publicly until now, the team has chosen to go the route of terminating my contract. Team ownership and I will have the chance to discuss the club's decision in a forum in the future.
After Petke was fired, Real Salt Lake release a statement explaining why they made the decision.
“On Tuesday, July 30, after an investigation and in conjunction with Major League Soccer, the club levied the steepest sanctions ever imposed on an MLS coach when we suspended Mike Petke without pay for two weeks in addition to his three-match suspension in MLS and $25,000 fine,” the team said. “After further deliberations and a series of constructive discussions internally and with various members of our community, we have concluded, pursuant to his employment agreement, to immediately terminate Mike Petke’s employment.”
The incident happened on July 24 when Real Salt Lake lost to Club America 1-0 in the League’s Cup. Petke started shouting homophobic slurs to the official and was thrown out after earning a red card according to Yahoo Sports.
Petke was hired to be RSL’s coach in 2017 and compiled a 39-36-16 record in all competition.