Mark Ingram and several of his New Orleans Saints teammates were turned away from a nightclub in London on Monday night, and early indications were that the decision was racially motivated. The club, however, says that is not what happened.
In a statement released on Tuesday, a representative from Cirque le Soir in Soho says Ingram and his friends were denied access because they had too many men in their group and not enough women — not because they were “too urban.”
“All of the team at Cirque le Soir are really upset by the suggestion that there was anything malicious in our turning away of Mark Ingram and his friends from the club on Monday 27th February,” the club said. “We proudly celebrate diversity, not only as part of our shows, but as part of who we are. We would not dismiss anyone as ‘too urban’ and we would not turn anyone away on the basis of their ethnicity, sexuality or any other characteristic — other than those expressed in our door policy: As an exclusive members club, we cannot guarantee entry to anyone and full discretion always lies with the door.
“… While we sympathise with Mark and his friends, we fully support our employees’ right to challenge groups that do not adhere to our door policy. Admitting an all-male group goes against our policy and is clearly stated on Facebook and on all reservation confirmation emails.”
If that is indeed the reason Ingram and company were turned away, it doesn’t explain where the phrase “too urban” came from or why it was allegedly used.
Ingram’s tweets about the incident went viral, and many other NFL players reacted to them. You can see some of those reactions here.
It certainly isn’t unheard of for nightclubs to balance the ratio of male-to-female patrons, though the Saints players and their friends were angry that they had reservations and were given a different reason for being stopped at the door. The truth about what actually happened likely lies somewhere in the middle.