Galaxy’s Lletget given 2-match ban for anti-gay slur

Major League Soccer has suspended LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget for two games and fined him an undisclosed amount for using a anti-gay slur on Instagram.

In a video Lletget posted to Instagram on April 9, Lletget used a Spanish slur as he slapped teammate Julian Araujo on the back of the neck following a Galaxy training session. He deleted the video from his Instagram account shortly after posting it.

In addition, Lletget is required to attend diversity, equity and inclusion training through Athlete Ally.

Lletget, who started in the Galaxy’s season opener win against Inter Miami CF, will miss matches against the New York Red Bulls on April 25 and the Seattle Sounders FC on May 2.

Lletget later issued multiple apologies, including one on a Zoom call with reporters on April 14. On that call, Lletget fought back tears and said he will work with MLS to try to become an ally for the LGBTQ+ community.

“I messed up and I’m trying to take full responsibility for it,” Lletget said. “I said a word that shouldn’t have been said. And although there’s been a lot of discussion and debate about the meaning of the word because of different dialects in Spanish and cultures, the truth is it’s a harmful word and it shouldn’t have been said.”

He added, “Moving forward, I really do want to do my part. I hate that this door has been opened this way, but I’ve always wanted to be involved in social causes and I’ve always wanted to be an ally. I hope there’s a silver lining and now the door is open, and I’m more than happy to walk through it and take it on and help and help different communities.”

In its announcement, MLS said that it “acknowledges and appreciates Lletget’s prompt apology and the accountability he has taken for his actions.”

The two-game suspension is one game shorter than past penalties for use of anti-gay slurs. Both Marc Burch, then of the Sounders, and Alan Gordon of the San Jose Earthquakes were hit with three-match bans for using such language on the field of play. Burch’s suspension took place in 2012 while Gordon’s ban was levied in 2013.

A source with knowledge of the situation said that Lletget’s ban was less because he didn’t use the slur in a “confrontational” manner.

Lletget has played for the Galaxy since 2015. Most recently, he appeared for the United States men’s national team during its two March friendlies.