SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego Loyal has 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 openly gay player Collin Martin was said to be made near the end of the first half of Wednesday's match against Phoenix Rising.
In June 2018, while with the Minnesota United, Martin came out as gay.
Martin's teammates rallied around him as they walked off the field at halftime.
Loyal's players and coaches took a knee after they came back out for the second half and then walked off to forfeit the match.
Loyal says the action was taken "in support of Martin and the diversity that the club stands for within its community."
The USL Championship said in a statement that they were investigating the incident.
"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 the statement. "Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches. An investigation is currently underway to determine the facts surrounding the incident, and more information will be provided as soon as it is available."
The Rising issued the following statement after the match:
"Shortly before halftime during the Phoenix Rising FC match with San Diego Loyal SC this evening, confusion occurred surrounding the referee’s issuance of a red card to a San Diego player," the team said. "Phoenix Rising is investigating the claim of a homophobic slur being used by one of its players who has vehemently denied these allegations. Phoenix Rising stands with the USL in rejecting and punishing any homophobic behavior."
On Thursday, the Rising released another statement saying Junion Flemmings, the player who yelled the homophobic slurs at Martin, and head coach Rick Schantz are both on administrative leave.
— x-Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) October 2, 2020
Last week during their match against the LA Galaxy II, Galaxy II player Omar Ontiveros used a racial slur in the direction of Loyal player Elijah Martin, ESPN reported.
The LA Galaxy issued a statement following the incident saying they had "mutually agreed to part ways" with Ontiveros.
Following the incident, Loyal issued a statement saying in part that they "don't even want to recognize being a part of a match where these types of actions take place."