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San Diego Loyal Walk Off Pitch After Homophobic Comment

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Landon Donovan said his San Diego Loyal "would not stand" for bigotry having left the pitch in protest after an alleged homophobic comment was aimed at openly gay midfielder Collin Martin.

An opposition player from Phoenix Rising was accused of making the comment just before half-time in their second-tier USL Championship game.

Loyal players returned after the break but walked off when the referee blew his whistle, forfeiting a match they were leading 3-1 and ending their chances of reaching the play-offs.

They forfeited a match against LA Galaxy II last week after an alleged racial slur was aimed at midfielder Elijah Martin. The player accused of making the comment has since been let go by Galaxy.

Loyal players took a knee before walking off during Wednesday's second division game against Phoenix Rising.

Loyal manager and executive vice-president Donovan, who played in the Premier League for Everton, said: "We went through a really hard incident last week in the LA match and we made a vow to ourselves, to our community, to our players, to the club, to USL, that we would not stand for bigotry, homophobic slurs, things that don't belong in our game."

Martin had been sent off after the incident but the red card was rescinded.

Instead, one was given to 38-year-old former forward Donovan - the United States' second-most capped player - after he came on to the pitch in the aftermath.

Phoenix Rising said the player who was alleged to have made the homophobic comment "vehemently denied" the allegations.

"I lost it because I know what this team has gone through," said Donovan. "I know how hard it was for them to even take the field tonight given everything that happened, and then for it to happen again a week later was just devastating for me."

Donovan said, despite players wanting to continue, the team decided that if the opponent who was alleged to have made the homophobic comment was not removed by either the referee, or by his club, they would not play.

"If they're not willing to act, then we have to act," he added.

"Our guys, to their immense credit, said we were not going to stand for this. They were very clear in that moment that they were giving up all hopes of making the play-offs, even though they were beating one of the best teams in the league.

"They said it doesn't matter. There are things more important in life and we have to stick up for what we believe in.

"I have tremendous pride in this group and this organisation."

In a statement, the USL Championship said it was aware of the allegation and an investigation was under way.

"Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches," it added.

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/54367938

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It's a real sign of their togetherness that they've walked off when they had a chance of the playoffs. Well done to them for doing that!

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Good that they've done this but also exposes how pathetic the reaction to racial abuse is. This should happen every time there is racial abuse from a player or from the stands.

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7 hours ago, The Artful Dodger said:

Good that they've done this but also exposes how pathetic the reaction to racial abuse is. This should happen every time there is racial abuse from a player or from the stands.

I think a week or 2 before they walked off when an LA Galaxy II player called one of their players the n word.

https://timesofsandiego.com/sports/2020/09/25/sd-loyal-forfeits-in-protest-of-la-player-using-n-word-not-being-penalized/

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Player who made the homophobic comment has been banned for 6 games, given leave on his contract as well.

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Phoenix Rising midfielder Junior Flemmings has been banned for six games for making a homophobic comment to San Diego Loyal's Collin Martin.

Jamaica international Flemmings, 24, made the comment during their recent second-tier USL Championship game.

The Loyal players walked off in protest to forfeit a match they were leading 3-1, ending their chances of reaching the play-offs.

"I never had a word said to me like that," said Martin, who is gay.

"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.

"I was emotional coming off the field not knowing what was going to happen. Not understanding why someone would say that to me."

Martin, 25, who has previously played for MLS club DC United, also said he was grateful for the support of his team-mates and manager Landon Donovan, who had demanded action against Flemmings.

"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 had previously forfeited a match against LA Galaxy II after an alleged racial slur was aimed at midfielder Elijah Martin.

The player accused of making the comment has since been let go by Galaxy.

Flemmings had denied having using the slur but the USL Championship says his ban follows an investigation that included 11 interviews with players, coaches and match officials.

In a statement, Phoenix Rising said they "accepted and supported" the decision while offering an apology to all who were affected.

The club also announced that Flemmings will be placed on leave for the remainder of his existing contract and be provided with resources "he needs to learn and grow from, so that he may become a model for change".

 

 

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In case anyone was wondering how this ended up, manager Rick Schantz (who tried to convince Landon Donovan not to make a big deal of it) is back on the sidelines after doing a "listening tour". Junior Flemmings is still suspended until his contract expires.

The team have also forfeited their right to host the Championship playoff final, which they won when this game was forfeited by San Diego (who were 3-1 up, remember). Personally I think it's pretty fucking questionable that they've only just decided on this gesture over 3 weeks after the incident, but it's something.

On 01/10/2020 at 17:57, Dr. Gonzo said:

I think a week or 2 before they walked off when an LA Galaxy II player called one of their players the n word.

https://timesofsandiego.com/sports/2020/09/25/sd-loyal-forfeits-in-protest-of-la-player-using-n-word-not-being-penalized/

They actually finished the game, not all being aware of what had happened, and then forfeited the point afterwards anyway, saying "We don’t even want to recognize being a part of a match where these types of actions take place”. Quite the statement. They finished 3 points outside playoff qualification (behind LA Galaxy II!) after throwing away 4 points because they won't stand for this nonsense

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