A Minnesota Vikings executive has spoken with a fan who wrote this week in the Star Tribune that he was subjected to hateful ethnic comments during Sunday’s home game at TCF Bank Stadium.
The team issued a statement Wednesday that what the fan described is “disturbing” and that it’s coordinating with security at the University of Minnesota campus stadium “to ensure an unfortunate incident such as this does not happen again.”
Kevin Warren, the Vikings chief operating officer, and Deepinder Mayell “spoke over the phone [Wednesday] and are scheduled to meet yet this week,” said team spokesman Jeff Anderson.
Mayell wrote in an opinion submission published Wednesday in the Star Tribune that he was at Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks when another fan pointed a finger in his face and demanded to know whether “I was a refugee,” he wrote. “He needed to make sure I wasn’t a refugee, he said. There was anger in his face and vehemence in his accusation.
“… Somewhere in his mind, all he saw was a terrorist, based on nothing more than the color of my skin. He was white, and I wasn’t.”
Mayell, a Twin Cities attorney and director of the Advocates for Human Rights’ Refugee and Immigrant Program, wrote that he reported the incident to security but that the man wasn’t asked to leave.
Vikings officials said they first learned of Mayell’s experience when they read his account in the Star Tribune.
“What Mr. Mayell conveyed is disturbing and certainly not within the values that we consistently promote throughout our organization and in the community,” the team said in a statement.
Along with reaching out to Mayell, the statement added that team officials are “in discussions with our internal security staff, who were unaware of the situation until [Wednesday] morning and are now in the process of investigating the incident. We will have further conversations with University of Minnesota security to create the most effective infrastructure to ensure an unfortunate incident such as this does not happen again, but if it does, that it is properly reported and handled.”
The Vikings have been playing their home games at TCF Bank Stadium while its new venue is being built. The team expects to debut at U.S. Bank Stadium in time for the 2016-17 season.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482