A Phoenix Rising footballer has received a six-match ban for using a homophobic slur against a San Diego Loyal player – an incident which led to San Diego walking off in protest and forfeiting the clubs’ recent match.
The slur, made by Junior Flemmings, was directed at Loyal midfielder Collin Martin, who is gay. San Diego players walked off the field and forfeited the September 30 match in protest.
Flemmings, who denied using the slur, is currently on leave and could face further discipline by the Rising. The league suspension includes all the league’s playoff games.
The USL Championship’s action comes after an investigation that included interviews with 11 people, including players and match officials.
The Loyal, coached by former US national team star Landon Donovan, were leading 3-1 when the players decided to leave the field in support of Martin.
The incident came a week after the Loyal asked to forfeit their 1-1 tie at the Los Angeles Galaxy II because San Diego’s Elijah Martin was called a racial slur.
The USL Championship is the second tier of U.S. football, below Major League Soccer.
Additional reporting by AP.