Junior Flemmings banned for homophobic slur directed at San Diego Loyal's Collin Martin

Junior Flemmings has been banned for six games for a homophobic slur directed at San Diego Loyal’s Collin Martin, which led to his team walking off the field in protest, the USL Championship confirmed.

The Jamaica international directed the slur at Martin, who is the only out gay player in US professional men’s soccer, during the match last Wednesday between San Diego Loyal and Phoenix Rising at the Torero Stadium.

Martin said he reported the abuse to the referee during the match, but the official misinterpreted this and sent him off and claims the matter was cleared up with the officials, before Flemmings then tried to “backtrack”.

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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

After the half-time break, Loyal players and staff – including their manager, United States icon Landon Donovan – returned only to take a knee at the start of the second half before walking off the pitch. Now, Flemmings has been disciplined by the league.

“Following an investigation that included interviews with 11 individuals, including players, coaches and match officials, a six-game suspension and undisclosed fine has been issued to Phoenix Rising FC’s Junior Flemmings for the use of foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur during the club’s match against San Diego Loyal SC on September 30,” a USL Championship statement said.

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We seek to forgive, educate and inspire. We ask those that support our stand to please be respectful with Junior Flemmings, Rick Schantz and the entire Phoenix organization.#SDLoyal 🤝 #RisingTogether pic.twitter.com/fUKkEokXIQ

“Per the player’s contract, Flemmings could also be subject to additional discipline from Phoenix Rising FC and remains on administrative leave. Flemmings’ suspension covers the entirety of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs.

“With the support of the USLPA and the USLBPA, the United Soccer League announced last Thursday a partnership with The Institute for Sport and Social Justice which will see The Institute provide league-wide sensitivity training and education for all staff and players ahead of the 2021 season.

“In addition, both Phoenix Rising FC and San Diego Loyal SC released a joint statement this past Saturday announcing the clubs have committed to work together toward the development of educational programs intended to make our sport, our league, and our communities better, more compassionate places.”

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