The San Diego Loyal soccer team forfeited a match in the USL Championship on Wednesday after its players alleged one opponent directed a homophobic slur at Collin Martin, an openly gay player.
As USA Today reports, the incident occured during the first half. The referee, who later said he was confused over the use of the slur, was told by a Loyal player that Phoenix Rising FC player Junior Flemmings allegedly called him "batty boy." The homophobic slur originates from Jamaica and went on to become part of the British lexicon. Flemmings, a Jamaican player, has denied his usage of the slur.
"Coach, your player called my gay temmate a batty boy," a Loyal player told Rising FC coach Rick Schantz. In a clip of the incident shared online, former soccer star and current Loyal coach Landon Donovan could be seen getting increasingly frustrated with the situation. "This is beyond soccer," he said to Schantz, to which he replied, "Come on, man, don't make a big scene."
Donovan, standing up for his team, added, "We have to get this out of our game." Schantz said that the situation has "nothing to do with racism," and Donovan said, "It's not racism, they're calling him gay. It's homophobia." Schantz attempted to brush off the incident, and simply replied, "They're competing."
"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," the team wrote on Twitter. "Last week we made it loud and clear that we do not stand for racism or homophobia. Nothing has changed this week." The team later shared a statement from Donovan, in which he explained why they decided to forfeit.
"Our guys, to their immense credit, just said, 'We're not going to stand for this,'" Donovan said in the video. "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."
The news comes just a week after the team forfeit after an LA Galaxy II player allegedly directed the n-word at Elijah Martin. Galaxy parted ways with the player responsible, Omar Ontiveros.