PHOENIX — Controversy on the soccer field. A tense moment Wednesday between Phoenix Rising and San Diego Loyal resulted in a forfeited game.
During the match, Phoenix Rising forward Junior Flemmings was accused of using a homophobic slur.
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.— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) October 1, 2020
Just last week, the San Diego team forfeited a game after a racial slur was used against one of their players. The player found to have used the word was quickly suspended and cut from his team.
On Wednesday, Flemmings was accused of using a slur toward San Diego’s Collin Martin, who announced in 2018 that he is gay.
Flemmings claims the accusation is false, saying, “At no point did I say a homophobic slur toward Collin Martin… I am disappointed by San Diego’s actions this evening as I have been mauled and ridiculed online with no opportunity to defend myself. I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ movement.”
San Diego Loyal was leading the match 3-1 mid-game when the players came out of the locker room and a heated confrontation happened on the sideline. Loyal coach, soccer legend Landon Donovan, said homophobia has no place in the game and was upset with the head coach for Phoenix.
Phoenix Rising released a statement after the accusation saying it will investigate the claim against one of its players who has "vehemently denied these allegations." The statement goes on to say "Phoenix Rising stands with the USL in rejecting and punishing any homophobic behavior."
"Phoenix Rising is investigating the claim of a homophobic slur being used by one its players who has vehemently denied these allegations. Phoenix Rising stands with the USL in rejecting and punishing any homophobic behavior."— x-Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) October 1, 2020
Thursday night, the team announced both Junior Flemmings and Head Coach Rick Schantz will be taking an administrative leave.
"Until the investigation is concluded by the USL, Phoenix Rising midfielder Junior Flemmings will be taking an administrative leave so that he may focus fully on cooperating with the investigation. Additionally, and unrelated to USL’s investigation, Head Coach Rick Schantz will also be taking administrative leave," the statement reads.