Major League Soccer team the LA Galaxy announced the release of midfielder Alexsander Katai on Friday. They did so with a one-sentence statement saying that it had "mutually agreed" to part ways with Katai following racist and violent social media posts by his wife, Tea. The Galaxy reached a financial settlement with Katai and do not hold any further financial obligations.
Tea made Instagram posts on Tuesday relating to George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests. The posts, which have since been deleted, mocked the ongoing demonstrations and reportedly promoted violence. One showed a police SUV attempting to drive through a crowd of protesters in New York City. Tea's caption, translated from Serbian, said: "Kill the s—s!" The second post showed a protester carrying a box of Nikes and featured the caption, "Black Lives Matter."
Following the posts, LA Galaxy fans demanded Katai's release. ESPN reports that some posed in front of Dignity Health Sports Park, holding a banner stating, "No Racists in Our Club." The banner also showed Katai's No. 7 crossed out with a red slash.
The former LA Galaxy player responded to the posts and his release with a message on Instagram. He said that his wife's posts were "unacceptable" and that he does not tolerate racism in their home. Katai took full responsibility and said that his family would take necessary actions to learn, listen and support the black community. This message sparked several comments on Instagram, including some fans saying Katai must "divorce his wife" before they accept his apology.
"Earlier today, the LA Galaxy were made aware of a series of racist and violent social media posts by Tea Katai, the wife of LA Galaxy midfielder Aleksandar Katai," the team said in a statement. "The LA Galaxy strongly condemned the social posts and requested their immediate removal. The LA Galaxy stands firmly against racism of any kind, including that which suggests violence or seeks to demean the efforts of those in pursuit of racial equality.
"The LA Galaxy stand with communities of color, and especially the Black community, in the protests and fight against systemic racism, social inequality, bigotry and violence. The LA Galaxy will hold a meeting with Katai on Thursday, June 4 and will determine next steps." The team announced Katai's release following the meeting.
Before his short-lived stint with the Galaxy, Katai spent two seasons with the Chicago Fire. He appeared in 62 games, scoring 18 goals and 12 assists. However, the Fire declined his 2020 contract option, providing a path for Katai to sign with the Galaxy in December 2019.