Dante Vanzeir gives interview to Belgian press
April 23, 2023
Dante Vanzeir spoke for the first time since the incident, explaining what happened to Sporza. Translation follows:
Dante Vanzeir, after the match in question, there was a lot of uncertainty. For example, some say you used the n-word. Is that right?
(without hesitation) "No. I'll tell you exactly how it went... The referee blows his whistle for a foul, after which I enter into a discussion with him. Afterwards I'm still grumbling to myself about the ref. I said then monkey, but in the sense of clown, dummy. Because I thought he made the wrong decision."
Did you immediately realize that you are using a word that has a different meaning in the US than it does here?
"Not at all. I think that is also clear from the reaction I had on the pitch. I was immediately approached by some guys from the opposing team, because they felt that I had spoken out against them."
To be clear, you didn't use that word against a player who was on the ground or standing near you?
"No. It never even occurred to me that that word would be offensive to one of my opponents. I was grumbling to myself and misjudged the impact of that word. In our language, that word is often used with an intent which is not racist at all."
Using that word is wrong.
"Correct. Afterwards I also realized what the impact could be, I realize that I hurt people with it. I would like to apologize again for my choice of words at that time. I've totally renounced the situation and the thought of hurting others. I've learned that I now have to handle my choice of words better, think twice before speaking. I can only emphasize that I'm sorry and that it will never happen again in the future."
MLS punished you with six weeks suspension, a fine and a reinstatement process.
"I fully accept that penalty. In that period I can process everything, take the necessary steps and, above all, rebuild the trust towards my teammates, the club and fans. I want to show that I am a good guy, that I am in my head and heart be free from racism."
So you still see yourself on the field in MLS?
"Certainly. I made a mistake, but I hope that the fans can forget me and welcome me back to the field. Because it is still my greatest passion. I want to experience great moments with the club and the fans. Lukaku is an example for many players, including me when I was younger. To hear something like that from the leader of the national team is frustrating. I really wish he called me so we could open one talk about. I hope something like this can still be done with the national team, because I am really open to it. It is a pity that his judgment leaked out in the media -- it pushed me even more into the pit. I think we could have been clearer at such moments can be towards each other."