Several fans were thrown out of the United Center on Saturday night after making racially-charged remarks toward Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly, according to the Chicago Blackhawks.
According to the Capitals, a group of fans taunted Smith-Pelley, who is black, by chanting “basketball, basketball, basketball” at him while he was sitting in the penalty box, and were ejected from the arena by staff.
The account was corroborated by officials in the penalty box and by the organization.
“I think it’s disgusting,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “There’s no place for it. The athletes in our country don’t deserve that. There is no place in this country for racism.”
A .gif posted online shows Smith-Pelly responding to the fans:
According to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mark Lazerus, the Blackhawks would not comment on whether the fans were banned from the arena, but the team did issue an apology to Smith-Pelly:
“We were made aware of an incident at tonight’s game involving a small group of attendees who made harmful comments directed at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly,” the team said. “The fans were immediately removed. We are committed to providing an inclusive environment for everyone who attends our games and these actions will never be tolerated.”
The Blackhawks ultimately won the game 7-1, snapping an eight game losing streak.