Jozy Altidore had a difficult welcome back to Red Bull Arena and New Jersey earlier this week, where his career started.
The veteran striker was booed and jeered by the partisan-New York Red Bulls crowd, and one fan in particular by the visitors bench allegedly called into question Altidore’s respect for the United States.
Now, Major League Soccer is reportedly investigating the incident, which led to Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney to turn around and try and quiet the fan down.
“It was ongoing throughout the course of the game,” Vanney said, via the Canadian Press. “And then a fan came up right over the top of the bench and in a very forthright, semi-aggressive manner was going after Jozy, just ultimately questioning his patriotism.
“I was just telling him to sit down politely and to mind his own business.”
For his part, Altidore said earlier in the week he understands the anger over the USMNT’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, but the personal attacks he said were jarring.
“My comment about Red Bulls fans being ‘classless’ was because of the stuff that had nothing to do with soccer,” Altidore told the Toronto Sun. “My mother raised us as Jehovah’s Witness, and there were comments being said that my beliefs have no place in this country. It’s ridiculous.
“Coming off the field — with Tosaint Ricketts and Raheem Edwards as my witness — there’s a (fan) standing a foot away from me telling me I have no idea what it’s like to represent this country, that I didn’t die for this country and I don’t deserve to be in this country because I don’t put my hand on my heart and that I don’t sing (the Star-Spangled Banner).”
Obviously, personal attacks have no place in any sport and hopefully the league and Red Bulls will investigate and ensure that the fan in question is banned.