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December 19, 2011
Report: Released Coundoul hits back at the Red Bulls

Former Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul felt he was not respected by GM Erik Soler and coach Hans Backe.
Former Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul felt he was not respected by GM Erik Soler and coach Hans Backe.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Speaking for the first time about his Red Bulls experience this past season, former New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul said there was "an amount of racism" with the way the team dealt with him and other players of African heritage.

In an interview with Saliou Gackou of Seneweb.com on Monday, the Senengal international claimed he was not respected by coach Hans Backe and general manager and sporting director Erik Soler.

The Red Bulls declined to pick up Coundoul's option for 2012.

In the interview, Coundoul said the 2010 Red Bulls had five Africans on the team -- defender-midfielder Danleigh Borman, midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy (Morocco), Macoumba Kandji (Senegal), Salou Ibrahim (Ghana) and himself.

All but Ballouchy were either released or traded. Ballouchy is the only player who is not black.

Coundoul said the media covering the Red Bulls never wrote about this situation.

"The press did . . . fail to raise it," he told the website. "Moreover, the trainer [Backe] never missed an occasion to humiliate me publicly."

Coundoul said his decision to play for Senegal in an international friendly against Guinea during pre-season training last Janaury was the beginning of the end. He had just come off his best Major League Soccer season, enjoying a career year.

He lost his No. 1 position to Greg Sutton, who eventually was loaned to the Montreal Impact.

Coundoul claimed that Backe made critical comments about him in front of the team.

"This was not respectful," he was quoted by Seneweb.com.

Despite what transpired, Coundoul said he decided to make the Trans-Atlantic trip to Africa every time the Senegal National Team called him because he wanted "to defend the colors of my nation at the price of my career. I do not regret anything the whole."

He asked the team to loan him out to a second division team in North America -- either USL PRO or the North American Soccer League, but the team said no.

That also occurred when a Swedish team wanted the services of Coundoul and another European club in the UEFA Champions League inquired about his availability, but both times the answer was no, Coundoul said.

Then came Coundoul's release by the Red Bulls. He was made available in the MLS re-entry draft earlier this month, but there were no takers.

His attempts to contact Soler were in vain, he said.

“They preferred to let the secretary make the job in announcing separation," he said.

The Red Bulls could not be reached for comment.
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