San Diego Loyal took to the field in protest Wednesday night, saying the Phoenix Rising player used an anti-gay slur directed at midfielder Colin Martin in the first half of his USL championship match.
Martin is an openly gay player.
The game, played at San Diego’s Torrero Stadium, has not been recognized in the league’s results since Wednesday, and has been ruled out of the match.
The USL Championship said it was investigating the incident.
“We are aware of the alleged use of homophobic slurry in tonight’s match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC,” the league said in a statement. “False and offensive language of any kind has no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches. An investigation is currently underway to determine the facts surrounding the incident and more information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.”
In Loyal’s previous match, Galaxy II player Omar Tintivros was suspended by the league, and was eventually cut off by the team, after uttering an N-word in the direction of loyalist Elijah Martin.
“Last week we made it out loud and clear that we don’t stand for racism or homophobia. Nothing has changed this week,” Loyal tweeted Wednesday night.
– San Diego Faithful (@sandigo lual) October October 1, 2020
Wednesday night’s protest came shortly after Martin was issued a red card to put Loyal ahead 3-1. Some loyal players approached a referee and were apparently offended. One player can be heard saying, “We’re off the field. We’re not doing this again. F — that. We’re out of here.”
As Loyal coach Landon Donovan and Rising coach Rick Schntz discussed the situation with the referee, a loyal player walked over to Schntz and said the Rising player pointed a scent at Martin.
“Don’t do dumb work,” the player told Schuntz. “You know what that means.”
Donov explained later In a video posted on Twitter Why he chose to leave the club grounds.
“Our people, to their enormous credit, just said, ‘We’re not going to run for this,'” Donovan said in the video. “They were very clear at the moment that despite beating one of the best teams in the league by hand, they were giving up all hope of making the playoffs. But they said that life is more important than anything else. And for what we believe. We have to stick to it. And so they decided to go. “
Rising released a statement Wednesday night stating that it was investigating a “homophobic slurry” claim used by one of its players. Rising said the player “strongly denies the allegations.”
“Phoenix Rising stands with the USL in denying and punishing any homophobic behavior,” Rising said in a statement.
Junior Flemings later identified himself as a player who accused him of using anti-gay slurs and denied the allegations, saying his teammates would support his account.
“At no time did I call Colin Martin a homophobic slur. I don’t know Colin personally, but I respect all my opponents equally,” Colin said. Said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I am in solidarity with the LGBTQ + movement.”