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01 October 2020 10:36

MLS New York Red Bulls LA Galaxy

USL's San Diego Loyal forfeit in protest, alleging anti-gay slur

San Diego Loyal players walked off the pitch in protest after an alleged homophobic slur was used against Loyal player Collin Martin during their USL Championship match against Phoenix Rising on Wednesday. Martin, the only out gay player in US professional men's soccer, was sent off shortly before half-time and heard an alleged homophobic insult directed at him by Phoenix midfielder Junior Flemmings. After the half-time break, Loyal players and staff - including their manager, United States icon Landon Donovan - returned to the pitch only to take a knee at the start of the second half before walking off the pitch. Landon Donovan on why the team decided to forfeit tonight's match against Phoenix Rising FC. #SDvPHX pic.twitter.com/7BcqzZBSrV — San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) October 1, 2020 Both Phoenix Rising and the United Soccer League say they are investigating the matter and released statements on Wednesday.

"We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight's match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC," a USL statement read. Phoenix co-owner Brandon McCarthy said Flemmings "unequivocally" denied using the slur, a claim which was backed up later on by the Jamaica international midfielder himself. "This evening in our match against the San Diego Loyal I was accused of making a homophobic slur towards a San Diego Loyal player. The incident comes a week after the Loyal chose to forfeit a USL Championship match against LA Galaxy II after an opposition player used a racial slur. The San Diego Loyal walked off the field in protest Wednesday night, saying a Phoenix Rising player used an anti-gay slur directed at midfielder Collin Martin in the first half of their USL Championship match.

The game, played at Torero Stadium in San Diego, was not recognized in the league's results from Wednesday, and the match has been ruled a forfeit. "We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight's match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC," the league said in a statement. In the Loyal's previous match, Galaxy II player Omar Ontiveros was suspended by the league, and ultimately cut by the team, after uttering the N-word in the direction of Loyal player Elijah Martin. #SDvPHX | #AllBlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/wXkv5O7qVr — San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) October 1, 2020 As Loyal coach Landon Donovan and Rising coach Rick Schantz discussed the situation with the referee, a Loyal player walked toward Schantz and said a Rising player directed a slur at Martin. The Rising issued a statement Wednesday night and said it is "investigating the claim of a homophobic slur" used by one of its players.

"Phoenix Rising stands with the USL in rejecting and punishing any homophobic behavior," the Rising said in its statement. Junior Flemmings later identified himself as the player accused of using the anti-gay slur and called the accusation false, saying his teammates would support his account. I do not know Collin personally, but I respect all of my opponents equally, Collin included," Flemmings said in a statement posted to Twitter. A match between the San Diego Loyal and Phoenix Rising in the USL Championship, the second-tier of U.S. soccer behind the MLS, ended prematurely on Wednesday after a San Diego walk-off in protest of an alleged anti-gay slur from a Phoenix player. San Diego tweeted after the incident that a slur was directed at midfielder Collin Martin, who announced in 2018 that he is gay.

The San Diego players took a knee at the beginning of the second half then exited the pitch. The @SanDiegoLoyal took a knee as the second half kicked off, then walked off the field in support of their teammate, Collin Martin, who was called a homophobic slur. San Diego owner Landon Donovan part of walk-out USMNT legend Landon Donovan, who owns San Diego, could be seen in a heated confrontation with Phoenix head coach Rick Schlantz over how to proceed before joining his players in the walk-off. USL, Phoenix investigating alleged slur The USL released a statement confirming it is aware of the alleged slur and is investigating the matter: "We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight's match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC. A statement from Phoenix soon followed, saying it is investigating the claim of a slur. 'Enough is enough' - USL's San Diego Loyal walk off the pitch after homophobic slur San Diego Loyal have walked off the pitch halfway through a USL match against Phoenix Rising after a homophobic slur was used. It's alleged a Rising player verbally abused openly-gay Loyal player Collin Martin during the contest with his club standing in solidarity with the midfielder. Despite leading 3-1 at half-time, Loyal returned for the second half, waited for the ball to be kicked off by Rising before opting to leave the pitch in protest. "In the first half a member of Phoenix Rising used a homophobic slur directed at Collin Martin. In response we have decided to walk off the pitch in protest," the club posted on Twitter. Loyal manager and former striker Landon Donovan was part of the walk-off and was seen debating the decision with Rising coach Rick Schantz. The Loyal's decision to walk off comes less than a week after they forfeited a point earned in a 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy II following news that a racial slur was directed at one of their players. "We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight's match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC," a statement read. SAN DIEGO: San Diego Loyal forfeited a second-division soccer match in the United States in protest against an anti-gay slur apparently hurled at one of its players. The comment toward Collin Martin, who is openly gay, was said to be made near the end of the first half of Wednesday's match against Phoenix Rising at Torero Stadium. When they came back out for the second half, Loyals players and coaches took a knee and then walked off, thereby forfeiting the match. SD Loyal forfeited the match in support of Martin and the diversity that the club stands for within its community, the club said. Loyal said in a statement that players and coaches heard the slur, but the match referees did nothing about it. Loyal forfeited its previous match a 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy II after player Elijah Martin was the victim of a racial slur by an opponent in the second half. SD Loyal finishes its first season in the USL Championship with consecutive forfeits," the club said, "making a strong message that it will not stand for such behavior.