October 7 – Junior Flemmings, a Jamaican midfielder with second-tier US club Phoenix Rising, has been banned for six games for using a homophobic slur that led to opponents San Diego Loyal walking off in protest and the match being called off.
The slur was directed at Loyal’s Collin Martin, who is gay. Minutes later the San Diego players, managed by former US international star Landon Donovan, forfeited the September 30 USL Championship match in protest.
Loyal were winning 3-1 at the time in what was the final game of their inaugural season in the league.
“I never had a word said to me like that,” said Martin. “I have heard homophobic language throughout my career and growing up but not to the point where it was directed at me like that. I felt personally attacked.”
Martin, 25, who has previously played for MLS club DC United, said he was grateful for the support of his team-mates and Donovan. “For this team to show that there are more things that are important than the actual game means a lot,” he added. San Diego Loyal returned to the pitch for the second half only to take a knee before walking off.
The USL Championship’s action followed an investigation that included interviews with 11 people, including players and match officials, according to agency reports.
The incident came just a week after Loyal forfeited its previous match – a 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy II – after another player Elijah Martin was the victim of a racial slur by an opponent in the second half.
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