A soccer team left a match in protest Wednesday night after alleging one of their opponents directed an anti-gay slur toward an openly gay player.
The USL Championship’s San Diego Loyal, whose coach is former US men’s national team star Landon Donovan, walked off the field while leading Phoenix Rising 3-1 after midfielder Collin Martin was allegedly the recipient of a slur. The USL is investigating the incident.
“Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches,” the USL said in a statement.
The incident came a week after Omar Ontiveros of LA Galaxy II was found to have directed a racial slur toward a Loyal player. Ontiveros was suspended six games by the USL — a Division II league below MLS — and was subsequently released by LA Galaxy II.
“We’ve been through a lot in the last week,” Donovan said in a video posted to the Loyal’s Twitter account. “This club, our players, the organization has been through a lot in the last week. I understand that most people watching from afar probably don’t really get it, but we’ve been living it. We went through a really hard incident last week in the LA match, and we made a vow to ourselves, to our community, to our players, to the club, to USL that we would not stand for bigotry, homophobic slurs, things that don’t belong in our game.”
Donovan got into an argument with Rising coach Rick Schantz after the alleged incident. Video appears to show Schantz getting defensive, while Schantz later gave his side of the exchange.
“At the start of halftime of the Phoenix Rising FC match with San Diego Loyal SC, I was heard on video asking San Diego’s Head Coach Landon Donovan how long he has been part of soccer,” Schantz wrote in a message posted to Twitter. “My question was in reference to Donovan’s behavior on the field with the referee, and in no way was I excusing any alleged homophobic behavior from my players.”
When Donovan heard Martin tell a referee after he was issued a red card that a player used a homophobic slur toward him, Donovan said he “lost it.”
“I know hard it was for them to even take the field tonight given everything that happened, and for it to happen again a week later, it was just devastating for me,” Donovan said.
The Rising said the accused player “vehemently denies these allegations,” according to ESPN.