The past couple of seasons, Club Deportivo Chivas USA has been a laughing stock in Major League Soccer (MLS) due to its lack of underachievement on the field but this season the image of the franchise may be tarnished by two discrimination lawsuits.
This franchise has a league low average in attendance, worst record in its conference and tied for second worst record in the league.
On top of that, former Chivas USA human resources and administrative manager Cynthia Craig filed the second lawsuit in a four month period against her former employer, according to The Torrance Daily Breeze report August 15, 2013.
The Calichman and Chronopoulos v. Chivas, et al. case was the first blemish in this potential nightmare for Jorge Vergara, a former part owner who gained full control of the team in November 2012.
Vergara also owns a Mexican club called Chivas de Guadalajara, which is famous in part because it will not sign non-Mexican players. According to the lawsuit, Vergara allegedly said he is taking Chivas USA back to its “Mexican roots.”
Chivas USA had a season ending supporter dinner for Black Army 1850 and Union Ultras last season and that is when they presented Jose David as the team’s president.
The first words that came out of David’s mouth according to the Black Army 1850 president Angel Mendoza were, “finally have a Mexican owner, for its Mexican team.”
This created an outburst of chants by Black Army 1850, which lead Mendoza to grab a microphone in disgust.
“That will never happen,” said an angry Mendoza. “We will not allow that to happen, we will protest that is what it is.”
Mendoza believes Vergara said the things he is being accused of in the complaint because of his arrogant personality and past incidents with Chivas de Guadalajara employees but believes Chivas USA should be identified with the Los Angeles area because this team doesn’t play in Mexico but in America.
Julio Ramos who is the leader of Union Ultras has a completely different perspective on the alleged complaint of discrimination against Chivas USA.
“I can’t believe they are saying Chivas USA discriminates when in reality Chivas USA has 11 players that were born in the L.A. area,” said Ramos. “At the end of the day those 11 players were born in the United States.”
According to Ramos, the HBO interview was out of line and unfair because there weren’t real fundamentals in that interview to say Vergara was discriminating.
“You know what, HBO talked to me for an hour and half and were fighting with me because they wanted me to talk shit about the team,” said Ramos. “But I was going to talk about the reality of the team and the HBO interview was really unfair because it was only one way, only one side of the story. Why didn’t they show what I said? Because it wouldn’t make sense for them.”
Both of these supporter groups are fundamental for Chivas USA because of the influence they have over followers of this team.
How the first lawsuit happened
Former professional soccer players and members of the U.S. National Team Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos filed the first suit against the club back in May in Los Angeles County Superior Court due to alleged discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination by Chivas USA based on national origin, ethnicity and race.
Chronopoulos and Calichman were employed as coaches in the Chivas USA Academy, which offers soccer programs for youngsters from approximately age seven through age 18.
According to the lawsuit, Vergara had called a meeting of the club’s employees Nov. 13, 2012. During that meeting, Vergara allegedly identified the non-Spanish speakers in attendance and told them, “If you don’t speak Spanish, you can go work for the L.A. Galaxy (professional soccer team in the United States), unless you speak Chinese, which is not even a language.”
Vergara may do as he wishes with job hiring in México but the Calif. and Federal law prohibits discrimination, treatment based on race, national origin or ethnicity.
Nothing has been proven yet but the second lawsuit filed by Craig really adds fire to the grill. How will Chivas USA respond to this second lawsuit?
Vergara told LA Hoy that he doesn’t want to build a Mexican team. He said, “We want a team in the USA that is a mixed of cultures and that can work well together. We want Chivas USA to distinguish itself from other teams not because of nationalities, but because of the style of play. When they go see us, I don’t think people are expecting to see a team with Mexican players or Mexican American players, they are looking to see a team that entertains, that wins.”
In theory, it sounds well for fans but Jorge Vergara’s actions speak louder than words according to Mendoza.
“I just think Vergara doesn’t care for the club,” Mendoza said. “We haven’t really seen him here in the stadium since last October — it’s been a full season and the owner doesn’t even come.”
Winning is essential in sports and discrimination happens too often in this country. California State University, Sacramento professor Dr. Manuel Barajas talked about this alleged reverse discrimination lawsuit.
“Reverse discrimination might occur in a personal level but it is not systemic in society,” Barajas said. “Bias is not natural; it something that societal institutions (media, education, government, business…) create and reproduce. Latinos and Latinas being a majority in California will not create a structure that reproduces reverse discrimination because generally they lack power in all those aforementioned institutions.”
In a study conducted by Rutgers University, 22 percent of Hispanic/Latino workers reported experiencing workplace discrimination, compared to only 6 percent of whites.
Discrimination is a big deal in the United States but the lack of winning is the real issue Chivas USA currently faces.
Winning brings happiness to the fans, money to the owners and fame to the players. Unfortunately, not everyone wins.
The MLS will have a lot to talk about in the offseason and this lawsuit should be number one on the list. Decisions will be made.
I do know one thing, winning heals many things in sports and Chivas USA fans haven’t tasted the playoffs in a while.
What will Vergara do in year number two?