Dell Loy Hansen, owner of MLS’s Real Salt Lake, railed Thursday against players from his soccer club and visiting Los Angeles FC who joined other sports teams a night earlier in protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake by choosing not to play.

Speaking on X96, a radio station he owns in Salt Lake City, Hansen said: “It’s a moment of sadness. It’s like somebody stabbed you, then you are trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward. The disrespect was profound to me personally."

Hansen’s comments stand in stark contrast to public statements made by the ownership of other pro sports teams and leagues at large.

After a day of blowback from former players, fans and other athletes, Hansen went on another radio station he owns, ESPN700, and said, “The players’ intentions were probably misinterpreted on my side."

Hansen called his “knife” comment “a poor metaphor, to say the least.”

He said he spoke with MLS Commissioner Don Garber. In a written statement, Garber said, “I strongly disagree with the comments he made today and the way they were expressed.”

Meanwhile, the Athletic reported Hansen has a long history of making racist comments. MLS said it would investigate.

In his initial radio comments, Hansen, who has held a majority stake in the organization for 7½ years, said the players let down the community, stadium workers and the 5,000 fans — the maximum number permitted at Rio Tinto Stadium under pandemic guidelines.

Workers who were rehired, he said, would be let go again. Wednesday would have been the team’s first home game since March 7.

“I am sadly disappointed we didn’t weigh the respect for $12-an-hour employees that won’t have a job,” Hansen said. “We will not be inviting fans back to the stadium in the future. Tomorrow I have to start cutting 40 to 50 jobs again. We would not go through the risk of inviting people back to have that kind of outcome.”

Hansen, who also owns the second-division Real Monarchs and NWSL’s Utah Royals, also questioned whether he would continue to invest in his MLS team.

“It’s taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team,” he said. “It just seems not a very good path for me to take.”

Former goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who retired last year as Real Salt Lake’s greatest player, tweeted: “Wow just wow! I can’t even right now. @realsaltlake locker room, fans, and front office that stand for equality, human rights, and the fight against racism I applaud you. I am disgusted by DLH comments. This is more than a game.”

The Real Salt Lake-Los Angeles FC match was among five MLS matches postponed Wednesday. Only Orlando City’s home game against Nashville SC was played as scheduled.

Players on most teams decided among themselves not to play. Some matches were postponed well in advance of kickoff, but Atlanta United’s game at Inter Miami was not called off until 20 minutes after the scheduled start.

Activism in MLS is not new. At the MLS is Back Tournament in Florida this summer, more than 100 players from around the league demonstrated before the opening match by raising fists, kneeling and wearing “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts. Similar episodes played out before every tournament match and again when the regular season resumed in home markets this month.

“People will miss out on entertainment, but at the end of the day it’s entertainment,” said Nedum Onuoha, a Real Salt Lake defender with a Nigerian and English background. “There are other things that are going on, which are essentially life or death, which should be a bigger part of any conversation that exists today, as opposed to maybe just missing out on an MLS game or an NBA game.”

Later Thursday, Onuoha told BBC World Service he no longer wants to play for Real Salt Lake, saying, “I’m not here to play for someone who isn’t here to support us.”

As for his message to fans at the stadium, Onuoha said, “We’re sorry for them that we couldn’t play in the stadium, because we wanted to do that, but then how do we feel about what’s just happened to Jacob Blake or the people in the country who are really suffering at the hands of things which we can also put in quotation marks as ‘inconvenient?' ”

In his earlier radio interview, Hansen did not address the reasons behind the players’ protest. Rather, he focused on the impact on the community.

“We looked at us as kind of the comeback kids, that we could be a leader in the community, show a path back safely within a covid environment,” he said. “This was a test: Could we invite the community safely into a group event? Obviously, the importance of bringing community together during covid was not respected."

Citing the impact of the protest on stadium workers and fans, Hansen said: “The implications become profound. … We, as an organization, are trying to build support and love around a team that supports the city, and all I can say is, they supported other issues nationally but clearly did not support our city or our organization.”

Backlash to Hansen’s comments stretched to the NBA, where Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said, “If it’s taken ‘the wind’ out then sell the team.”

Jozy Altidore, a Toronto FC and U.S. national team forward, said: “He needs to sell the team then. I’m involved in a group that’s ready to purchase it. Time for change.”

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