And so it begins: Discrimination lawsuit filed against Chivas USA

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Per reporting from Kevin Baxter at the L.A. Times, two former Chivas USA coaches filed a discrimination suite against the club in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, alleging their March firing resulted from their being “neither Mexican nor Latino.”

Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos, both former coaches in Chivas USA’s youth academy, were let go earlier this year, well after Jorge Vergara and his wife, Angelica Fuentes, became the team’s sole owners. In the interim:

  • employees were told those who did not speak Spanish would be fired, …
  • Chronopoulos was asked to compile lists that distinguished Mexican/Mexican-American players and coaches from one who were not, …
  • while each coach was asked to research the ethnic and national origins of academy players and parents.

Internal, formal claims of discrimination were never pursued, the coaches’ complaint alleges. On March 7, the duo were terminated, two months after they were offered a severance package in exchange for their resignations.

Chivas USA isn’t commenting, and the coaches are seeking punitive damages, but we should have known something like this was coming. Chivas USA’s sudden return to their “Mexican roots” has been as subtle and elegant as a trade that sells Juan Agudelo for $75,000.

As this observation from Baxter intimates, the turn the organization’s taken since Vergara’s buyout makes Chivas USA’s preferences clear:

In 2012, just one Chivas USA player had Mexican roots. This year no fewer than 14 were either born in Mexico or have Mexican-born parents, making them eligible to player for Chivas de Guadalajara as well as Chivas USA.

You didn’t have to go too deep into a comment thread this winter to read people asking about this scenario. Why, in this day and age, is a team allowed to instill such a discriminatory policy? Even if the policy can be seen as “positive discrimination”?

Now an L.A. Superior Court will get their say. Before more’s known about the case, it’s hasty to assume how far it will go, let alone if Chivas USA will end up paying anything to the coaches. Still, a lot of questions that were asked throughout the offseason will get some sort of legal reply.