Junior Flemmings of Phoenix Rising has been banned for six matches for ahomophobic insult aimed atSan Diego Loyal’s Collin Martin.

The Jamaican was found to have directed “foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur” at Martin, who is the only openly gay player in football in the United States.

The incident in last Wednesday’s USL Championship match prompted San Diego to walk off the pitch in protest. The referee had mistakenly sent Martin off, apparently thinking he was the abuseras he reported Flemmings’ comments to the officials.

A heated discussion between head coach Landon Donovan, opposite number Rick Schantz and the referee followed. San Diego returned to the pitch after half-time but only to take a knee before walking off again.

Flemmings issued a statement on social media denying the abuse, butRising placed him on administrative leave last Thursday while the league conducted an investigation into the incident.

The USL Championship is onetier below Major League Soccer in the United States.

On Tuesday, the league confirmed the punishmentstating: “The USL Championship announced on Tuesday, following an investigation that included interviews with 11 individuals, including players, coaches and match officials, that it has issued a six-game suspension and undisclosed fine 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.”

Martin released a statement on social mediain the aftermath of the incidentthanking his team-mates for the solidarity shown in the walk-offand saying he hopesit will eventually help “kick hate out of our game.”

“I truly want to focus on and that is the response of my coaches, team-mates, and the organisation,” Martin said. “Their collective decision to walk off the field in solidarity and forfeit the match speaks volumes of their support for me and what this organisation is standing up to.

“Ultimately, I hope this can be another example that we have a long way to go in educating ourselves and kicking hate out of our game.”

Source : goal.com

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