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    Junior Flemmings banned for SIX games after shouting homophobic slur at gay player Collin Martin

    Junior Flemmings banned for SIX games after shouting homophobic slur at openly-gay player Collin Martin… which resulted in Landon Donovon’s San Diego Loyal side walking off the pitch against Phoenix Rising

    • San Diego Loyal’s players walked off the pitch last week in protest at the incident
    • Junior Flemmings was accused of directing a homophobic slur at Collin Martin
    • Loyal’s Martin is the only openly-gay player in US professional men’s football 
    • Now, Flemmings has been banned and fined an undisclosed amount for ‘foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur’
    • Loyal boss Landon Donovan said last week: ‘We have to get this out of our game’

    A footballer who directed a homophobic slur at San Diego Loyal’s Collin Martin, the only openly-gay player in US professional men’s football, has been banned for six matches. 

    Junior Flemmings, a Jamaican international who plays for Phoenix Rising in the USL Championship, was accused of making the comment during last Wednesday’s match which resulted in a heated touchline conversation between Loyal manager Landon Donovan, the referee and opposition manager Rick Schantz at the interval. 

    Loyal players took a knee at the beginning of the second half and then walked off in protest following the reported use of the term ‘batty boy’ – a Jamaican slur used to belittle gay or effeminate men – and Flemmings has now been punished by the league with a ban and an undisclosed fine. 

    Junior Flemmings has been banned for six games after directing a homophobic slur last week

    Landon Donovan and San Diego Loyal walked off the pitch after the alleged homophobic slur

    Landon Donovan and San Diego Loyal walked off the pitch after the alleged homophobic slur

    It was directed at openly gay Loyal midfielder Collin Martin (pictured middle row, far right)

    It was directed at openly gay Loyal midfielder Collin Martin (pictured middle row, far right)

    Martin had originally been sent off for his reaction to the slur but this was later rescinded by the referee as a discussion took place between the two managers. 

    Donovan said his team, who were leading 3-1, wanted to continue but agreed they would walk off if Flemmings was not removed by the referee or his team, despite it meaning they would lose any chance of making the play-offs in their debut season. 

    Former USA international Donovan was heard telling his opposite number: ‘We have to get this out of our game’.

    After the incident, Flemmings revealed himself to be the player in question on Twitter, writing: ‘In our match against San Diego Loyal I was accused of making a homophobic slur towards a San Diego Loyal player. 

    ‘This accusation is false and my fellow team-mates will support my claim.’  

    Donovan told his opposite manager Rick Schantz: 'we have to get this out of our game'

    Donovan told his opposite manager Rick Schantz: ‘we have to get this out of our game’

    Phoenix Rising's Flemmings vehemently denied the accusations in a statement afterwards

    Phoenix Rising’s Flemmings vehemently denied the accusations in a statement afterwards

    It was the second game in a row Donovan’s team have forfeited a match after their defender Elijah Martin was racially abused against LA Galaxy II. 

    The game ended in a 1-1 draw but San Diego Loyal opted to forfeit the match two days later after they were made aware of the incident. 

    A USL Championship statement read: ‘Following an investigation that included interviews with 11 individuals, including players, coaches and match officials, a six-game suspension and undisclosed fine has been issued to Phoenix Rising FC’s Junior Flemmings for the use of foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur during the club’s match against San Diego Loyal SC on September 30.

    ‘Per the player’s contract, Flemmings could also be subject to additional discipline from Phoenix Rising FC and remains on administrative leave. Flemmings’ suspension covers the entirety of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs.

    San Diego players (L) returned to the pitch to take a knee and then walked off after half-time

    San Diego players (L) returned to the pitch to take a knee and then walked off after half-time

    Martin publicly announced he was gay in June 2018 while he was at Minnesota United

    Martin publicly announced he was gay in June 2018 while he was at Minnesota United

    ‘With the support of the USLPA and the USLBPA, the United Soccer League announced last Thursday a partnership with The Institute for Sport and Social Justice which will see The Institute provide league-wide sensitivity training and education for all staff and players ahead of the 2021 season.

    ‘In addition, both Phoenix Rising FC and San Diego Loyal SC released a joint statement this past Saturday announcing the clubs have committed to work together toward the development of educational programs intended to make our sport, our league, and our communities better, more compassionate places.’  

    It is rare for footballers to come out while they are still playing, but Martin publicly announced he was gay in June 2018 while he was at Minnesota United. 

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