Hansen apologized in a statement Sunday for “offending and being insensitive to the plight of others,” adding that he will commit to supporting and improving diversity and inclusion.
“After deep consideration and soul-searching, my wife Julie and I agree that the best way forward for the Real Salt Lake family is to assume new ownership and a refreshed vision,” he said. “We are fully invested in supporting the transition to new ownership and will work diligently to try to ensure that the Club stays within our community.”
On Thursday, after Real Salt Lake and other athletes refused to play to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake, Hansen appeared on X96, a radio station he owns in Salt Lake City, and 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.”
Those comments were in stark contrast to statements made by the owners of other sports teams and league executives. Hansen was heavily criticized and on Friday appeared on another station he owns, ESPN700, and said, “The players’ intentions were probably misinterpreted on my side.”
Hansen became full owner of Real Salt Lake in January 2013 and, after acquiring the NWSL’s FC Kansas City in November 2017, moved the team to Salt Lake City. Garber in his announcement praised Hansen for his “significant efforts to build the sport of soccer in the state of Utah and for his commitment to Major League Soccer.” The NWSL, in a statement, said Hansen’s decision to sell is “in the best interest of the club and the NWSL.”
The announcement attracted the attention of J.J. Watt, whose wife Kealia plays for the Chicago Red Stars. After tweeting, “I’m interested,” to news of the sale, he explained why.