The game between the San Diego Loyal and the Phoenix Rising ended early on Wednesday due to the Loyal waking off the field in protest. Prior to the start of the second half, which was the USL Championship match, the Loyal exited the field after a player from the Rising allegedly used a homophobic slur at Loyal midfielder Collin Martin. Rising midfielder Junior Flemmings is the person who allegedly said the slur.
"In last night's game against the Phoenix Rising, an exchange between Junior Flemmings and myself escalated to the point of him calling me a 'Bati Boy,' which is a homophobic slur that can be translated to 'f—,'" Martin said in a statement. "This is not the first time I've heard this homophobic slur, however, it's the first time in my eight-year playing career that a slur has been directed at me during a game." Martin went on to tell the referee that a slur has been directed towards him. However, Martin received a red card because the ref thought he said the slur. "Once it was cleared up with the ref, as well as explaining it to the fourth official and my coach what had transpired, Flemmings came over and told me that he knew of my 'situation' (I'm an out gay man) and that he didn't call me a slur," Martin continued.
The San Diego Loyal walked off the field in protest Wednesday night, saying a Phoenix Rising player used an anti-gay slur directed at openly-gay midfielder Collin Martin.
Manager Landon Donovan discussed the incident with the referee and Phoenix head coach Rick Schantz. pic.twitter.com/WlOYauQhgV— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 1, 2020
Martin then said he appreciated the team for walking off the field to show their support. "Their collective decision to walk off the field in solidarity and forfeit the match speaks volumes of their support for me and what this organization is standing up to," he said. Ultimately, I hope this can be another example that we have a long way to go in educating ourselves and kicking hate out of our game."
Flemmings also released a statement denying the accusation. He said the claim is "false" and his teammates "will support my claim." Flemmings went on to say there's "no evidence to support the claim," and the referee "admitted he did not hear any homophobic slurs and was utterly confused by the situation." Former US Men's Soccer team star Landon Donovan is the manager of the Loyal and explained the team's move to walk off the field.
"Our guys, to their immense credit, just said, 'We're not going to stand for this,'" Donovan said. "They were very clear in that moment that they were giving up all hopes of making the playoffs, even though they were beating one of the best teams in the league, handily. But they said that doesn't matter. There's things more important in life and we have to stick up for what we believe in. And so they made the decision to walk off."