USL suspends Junior Flemmings for using homophobic slur

A forward for the Phoenix Rising soccer team has been fined and suspended for six games for using a homophobic slur toward an openly gay player, league officials said.

The USL Championship announced Tuesday it suspended Junior Flemmings and issued him an undisclosed fine for using the anti-gay slur during a Sept. 30 match against the San Diego Loyal’s Collin Martin.

“Per the player’s contract, Flemmings could also be subjected to additional discipline from Phoenix Rising FC and remains on administrative leave,” league officials said in a statement. “Flemmings’ suspension covers the entirety of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs.”

San Diego was leading the match 3-1 when the team walked off the field in protest after a heated exchange between the opposing players, Martin previously told the Washington Post.

“[Flemmings] called me a bati boy, which I knew, for a lack of a better word, meant ‘faggot,’” Martin told the newspaper last week.

Flemmings, a Jamaica native, was complaining about a yellow card doled out to a fellow Phoenix player when Martin told him to “stop complaining,” the midfielder recalled.

“He used some bad language toward me four or five times, which I can deal with, no problem,” Martin said. “I then had a conversation with another one of their players. I said, I can’t believe how disrespectful this guy is.”

Flemmings then made the anti-gay slur as Martin was talking to another Phoenix player, Martin said.

“He escalated it to get under my skin,” Martin said.

Flemmings, meanwhile, had denied using the slur on Twitter before deleting his account, the Washington Post reported.

The incident came just a week after Omar Ontiveros of LA Galaxy II was suspended six games and later released for hurling a racial slur at San Diego midfielder Elijah Martin. League officials announced on Sept. 1 that all staff and players would undergo sensitivity training prior to the 2021 season.

“Prejudiced language and bigotry has no place in sport or anywhere else for that matter,” Phoenix Rising FC Governor Berke Bakay said in a joint statement released with San Diego. “The on-field events of Wednesday’s match could not be more contrary to the values of our organization … We look forward to the implementation of these educational programs and hope that they can serve as a model for our league.”