United Soccer League’s San Diego Loyal walked off the field on Wednesday night after their player Collin Martin was called a homophobic slur by a Phoenix Rising player. The team was leading 3-1 in the match but decided that standing up for Martin and against homophobia was more important than winning it.
Martin came out as gay in 2018, making him then the only openly gay professional athlete active in any of the five major sports leagues: MLS, NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB (Martin’s now in the USL).
The Guardian reports: “In a statement Phoenix said their player denies using a homophobic slur. The alleged incident occurred a week after Loyal’s Elijah Martin was found to have been racially abused by the LA Galaxy second-team player Omar Ontiveros, who was later given a seven-game suspension by the USL Championship and released by the club.”
Phoenix Rising player Junior Flemmings denied using the slur, said to be the Jamaican term “batty boy.”, in a tweet following the match.
Loyal manager Landon Donovan explained why the team walked off the field.
‘We made a vow to ourselves that we would not stand for bigotry, homophobic slurs and things that don’t belong in our game.’— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) October 1, 2020
Donovan explained exactly why San Diego Loyal forfeited the match after the incident pic.twitter.com/xcUdhZXfWb
Said Donovan: “Our guys said we will not stand for this and they were very clear in that moment that we are giving up all hopes of making the play-offs. They are beating one of the best teams in the league but they said it doesn’t matter and there are more things important in life and we have to stick up for what we believe in. They made the decision to walk off and I have tremendous pride in this group and I am really proud of this organisation and that I get to be a part of it.”