USL team forfeits in protest, alleging anti-gay slur

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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 midfielder Collin Martin in the first half of their USL Championship league match.

Martin is an openly gay player.

The game, played at Torero Stadium in San Diego, was not recognized in the league’s results from Wednesday, and the match has been ruled a forfeit.

The USL Championship said it is investigating the incident.

“We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight’s match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC,” the league said in a statement. “Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches. An investigation is currently underway to determine the facts surrounding the incident and more information will be provided as soon as it is available.”

In the Loyal’s last match, Galaxy II player Omar Ontiveros was suspended by the league, and ultimately cut by the team, after uttering the N-word in the direction of Loyal player Elijah Martin.

“Last week we made it loud and clear that we do not stand for racism or homophobia. Nothing has changed this week,” the Loyal tweeted Wednesday night.

Wednesday night’s protest occurred shortly after Martin was issued a red card with the Loyal leading 3-1. Several Loyal players approached a referee and were visibly upset. One of the players could be heard saying, “We’re off the field. We’re not doing this again. F— that. We’re out of here.”

As Loyal coach Landon Donovan and Rising coach Rick Schantz discussed the situation with the referee, a Loyal player walked toward Schantz and said a Rising player directed a slur at Martin.

“Don’t act dumb,” the player said to Schantz. “You know what that means.”

The Rising issued a statement Wednesday night and said it is “investigating the claim of a homophobic slur” used by one of its players. The Rising said the player “vehemently denies these allegations.”

“Phoenix Rising stands with the USL in rejecting and punishing any homophobic behavior,” the Rising said in its statement.