An alleged anti-gay slur from Phoenix Rising player Junior Flemmings against Collin Martin of the San Diego Loyal, who is openly gay, prompted Martin’s team to walk off the pitch on Wednesday in the USL Championship, the second tier of U.S. pro soccer.
A day later, Phoenix announced that Flemmings was being placed on administrative leave while the team and USL investigate the matter.
Phoenix coach Rick Schantz has also reportedly been placed on leave, though the team claimed it was for an unrelated matter.
In the incident, Flemmings allegedly called Martin a “batty boy,” an anti-gay Jamaican slur. Martin publicly came out in 2018.
Martin informed the referee, who got confused and issued Martin a red card after thinking Martin was using anti-gay language. The confusion was eventually cleared up, but that didn’t stop San Diego from taking a knee at the start of the second half and walking off the pitch in protest of the alleged slur.
Per former MLB pitcher Brandon McCarthy, a co-owner of Phoenix, Flemmings denied using the slur. Both Phoenix and the USL have announced investigations into the matter.
Phoenix manager appeared to defend slur
While the club said Schantz’s leave is unrelated to Flemmings’ alleged slur, the move does come after criticism of the coach’s conduct in a confrontation with San Diego coach and co-owner Landon Donovan.
The exchange came after the referee’s misunderstanding with Martin. Schantz appears to tell a visibly irate Donovan to not make a scene over the alleged slur, then questions Donovan’s experience in soccer. Donovan ranks second all-time in appearances on the USMNT.
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.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 1, 2020
Manager Landon Donovan discussed the incident with the referee and Phoenix head coach Rick Schantz. pic.twitter.com/WlOYauQhgV
Donovan asked Schantz to remove Flemmings from the match after the referee declined to discipline the midfielder because he did not know what the slur meant. Schantz declined.
The resulted in Donovan joining his team in the subsequent walkout, a gesture Martin said he appreciated in a statement released on Thursday.
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