Galaxy reach a financial settlement with Aleksandar Katai and release him after his wife’s tasteless posts.
CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy have parted ways with Midfielder Aleksandar Katai after Katai’s wife, Tea Katai, posted racially charged posts on Instagram.
The social media posts were enough that the Galaxy called Katai into a meeting on Thursday and released him. And while the contract wasn’t terminated, a financial settlement was reached between the two sides. With the Galaxy paying a portion of the agreement but being released from any future considerations. How much that portion ends up being is unknown. Also unknown is whether or not the Galaxy will receive cap relief from MLS because of the buyout. That decision is apparently still pending.
Katai joined the club after spending the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Chicago Fire and was primarily seen as a positive replacement for club-favorite Romain Alessandrini. But in limited preseason appearances — one where he received a red card — and just two regular-season games before the suspension of the league, he was a work-in-progress who didn’t make the 60-minute mark in either game.
The club never released his salary for the 2020 season, and the MLSPA hasn’t released its list of wages either. But Katai was signed using Targeted Allocation Money, which places his salary at more than the $612,500 max budget charge under league roster rules. Katai made $2.7-million combined in his two years with Chicago.
From the soccer side of things, the Galaxy are left shorthanded at a position they went out and recruited for this offseason. And while they have plenty of midfielders, it will likely require a reformat with Sebastian Lletget taking a wide role and Cristian Pavon playing on either side. Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan dos Santos can hold down the middle as the club prepares itself for the Orlando tournament in July.
Plus, it puts a dent into the Galaxy’s plans of having an attacking front three of Pavon, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, and Katai. Not that any of that matters from the social side of this.
Perhaps their only respite is that a new transfer window should open up this summer. But when that window opens is anyone’s guess. The global pandemic continues to wreak havoc on any semblance of a schedule.
The bottom line, however, is that the Galaxy couldn’t handle the public relations hit, and the alienation of a large portion of their fan base. With a brand based on social and racial justice, they couldn’t have a line drawn between racism and their players.
And in separating from Katai, have, at least for the moment, practiced what they preached. After all, this was never a soccer decision.
Updated with additional details at 12:20 PM