SALT LAKE CITY — Real Salt Lake has fired head coach Mike Petke.
The club announced Sunday night that following Petke’s July 24 postgame tirade directed at officials, in which he reportedly used a Spanish homophobic slur, it has terminated his contract.
On July 30, Petke was suspended by Major League Soccer for three games, among other penalties. Petke reportedly would have returned to work on Monday.
In announcing the decision, the club said in a statement it made the choice “after further deliberations and a series of constructive discussions internally and with various members of our community” following the July 30 sanctions.
“At Real Salt Lake, we have the privilege to represent our great community and fans here locally and on a national and global basis,” read the statement. “We hold all of our coaches, players, executives and staff to the highest standards of professionalism. As an organization, it is vital that everyone, particularly our leadership, reflects and embodies our core values and the values of our community, treating all people with respect, civility and professionalism.
"Moreover, throughout our 15-year history, we have championed diversity, acceptance and inclusion throughout our organization, our stadiums and our community. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously.”
RSL announced that assistant coach Freddy Juarez, who has been serving as head coach during Petke’s suspension, will be head coach through the remainder of the 2019 season.
Petke, 43, was hired as RSL’s head coach to replace Jeff Cassar in 2017 after a short stint as head coach of Real Monarchs SLC. Prior to coming to Utah, Petke was head coach of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls from 2013-2015, which followed a 13-year career in the league from 1998-2010.
RSL missed the playoffs in 2017 but upset LAFC in the first round in 2018.
During his time leading RSL, Petke was previously suspended on two other occasions for three games total because of incidents involving referees.
Away from the game, Petke took many occasions to publicly champion equal rights for numerous marginalized groups.
RSL is sixth in the table in MLS’ Western Conference with a record of 11-9-4. It has won two games in a row under Juarez and drew the first game he took over for Petke.