USL’s San Diego Loyal forfeits protest, alleging anti-gay slurs

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The San Diego Loyal left the field in protest on Wednesday night, claiming that a Phoenix Rising player used an anti-gay slur directed at midfielder Collin Martin in the first half of their USL Championship game.Martin is an openly gay player.

The game, played at Torero Stadium in San Diego, was not recognized in Wednesday’s league results, and the game was forfeited.

The USL Championship said it was investigating the incident.

“We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight’s game between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC,” the league said in a statement. “Coarse and abusive language of any kind has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL games. An investigation is currently underway to determine the facts surrounding the incident and more information will be provided as it becomes available. ”

In the Loyal’s previous game, Galaxy II player Omar Ontiveros was suspended by the league and ultimately cut off by the team, after uttering the N-word towards Loyal player Elijah Martin.

“Last week we said loud and clear that we are not standing up for racism and homophobia. Nothing has changed this week, ”the Loyal tweeted Wednesday night.

Wednesday night’s protest came shortly after Martin was given a red card with the Loyal leading 3-1. Several loyal players approached a referee and were visibly upset. One of the players could be heard saying, “We’re off the field. We don’t do it anymore. F – that. We are out of here. ”

As Loyal Coach Landon Donovan and Rising Coach Rick Schantz discussed the situation with the referee, a Loyal player walked up to Schantz and said a Rising player directed an insult at Martin.

“Don’t be silly,” the player said to Schantz. “Do you know what that means. ”

Donovan later explained in a video posted on Twitter why his club chose to leave the field.

“Our guys, to their immense credit, just said, ‘We’re not going to defend this,’” Donovan said in the video. “They were very clear at that point that they were giving up any hope of making the playoffs even though they hand-beat one of the best teams in the league. But they said it doesn’t matter, there are more important things in life. and we must stand up for what we believe in. So they made the decision to leave. ”

The Rising released a statement Wednesday night and said it was “investigating the allegation of a homophobic slur” used by one of its players. The Rising said the player “vehemently denies these allegations.”

“Phoenix Rising stands with USL in rejecting and punishing all homophobic behavior,” the Rising said in its statement.

Junior Flemmings then identified himself as the player accused of using the anti-gay insult and called the accusation false, saying his teammates would back his account.

“At no time did I utter a homophobic insult to Collin Martin. I don’t know Collin personally, but I respect all my opponents in the same way, Collin included ”, said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I am in solidarity with the LGBTQ + movement. “



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