The aftermath of the forfeited soccer match between the San Diego Loyals and the Phoenix Rising continues, as officials for the United Soccer League (USL) have suspended midfielder Junior Flemmings over the player’s use of anti-gay slurs during a match September 30.
In a statement, the USL announced that it had conducted a full investigation of the incident in question, interviewing 11 players and officials present at the game. Ultimately, the league opted to suspend Flemmings for the remaining six games of the season until his contract ends on November 30.
“Phoenix Rising accepts and supports the results of this investigation,” Phoenix Rising FC General Manager Bobby Dulle said in a statement. “These actions could not be more contrary to the core values of our organization, and we apologize to all who were affected. We will use this as an opportunity to learn, grow and be a force for change, as we work towards eradicating bias from our sport and our community.”
The game in question dissolved at halftime following allegations by openly gay player Collin Martin that Flemmings had used anti-gay language during the match. Martin charged that Flemmings referred to him as a “batty boy,” the Jamaican equivalent of “f*ggot.” A heated argument ensued between Phoenix manager Rick Schantz and San Diego manager/co-owner Landon Donovan, with Schantz apparently asking “How long have you been playing soccer?”
Ultimately, the entire San Diego Loyal team opted to walk off the field when Schantz and game officials refused to acknowledge the situation. The walk-off meant that San Diego forfeited the game, which they were winning 3-1 prior to halftime.
“I felt personally attacked.”
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) October 2, 2020
Martin opened up about the incident in a video posted to Twitter, saying “I never had a word said to me like that. I felt personally attacked.” At present, Martin is the only openly gay player in the USL.
Junior Flemmings, for his part, continues to deny using any homophobic language.