Pa. High School Soccer Coaches Resign After Team’s “Ebola” Taunts

Northampton players teased Nazareth's 16-year-old West African star.

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Last week, the Konkrete Kids soccer team of Northampton, Pennsylvania, traveled to Andrew Leh Stadium in Nazareth for a match against the Nazareth Blue Eagles, whose star player is 16-year-old Ibraham Tounkara of Guinea, one of the West African areas affected by the Ebola outbreak. And less then one week later, the Northampton team’s coaches have resigned over “Ebola” taunts their players lobbed at Tounkara during that game.

A story filed by a Lehigh Valley Live sports reporter just after the match, which Northampton won, described it as “ugly” and “brutal.”

“Then, with 4:15 on the clock, Nazareth’s Ibraham Tounkara was given a red card for violent conduct,” wrote Kyle Craig in that story. “Tounkara appeared incensed at something that happened prior to the Blue Eagles taking a free kick, and needed to be restrained by his teammates.”

In the days following the game, that “something” became more clear.

Tounkara’s guardian, Edward Bachert, told Allentown’s Morning Call newspaper that the Northampton players chanted “Ebola!” during the game. According to Bachert, other Nazareth players told him that there were also racial slurs used.

Here is a tweet from the night of the game from a girl who identifies herself as Tounkara’s sister:

On Monday, officials for both school districts confirmed that an investigation was underway, and that investigation reportedly concluded on Tuesday with two Northampton coaches resigning and players facing possible discipline.

The Nazareth and Northampton superintendents did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but neither district has made the results of their investigation public.

Racial unrest is not exactly new to this area of the Lehigh Valley, which has a history of Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi activity. Last year, one Northampton resident circulated a petition to change the name of the Konkrete Kids, because he believed the team’s name was a nod to the KKK. But the district said no, that the name has its roots in the German language and in the region’s cement industry.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.