PHOENIX Rising midfielder Junior Flemmings has been banned for six games for making a homophobic comment to San Diego Loyal’s Collin Martin.
Jamaica international Flemmings, 24, made the comment during their recent second-tier USL Championship game.
The Loyal players walked off in protest to forfeit a match they were leading 3-1, ending their chances of reaching the play-offs.
“I never had a word said to me like that,” said Martin, who is gay.
“I have heard homophobic language throughout my career and growing up but not to the point where it was directed at me like that. I felt personally attacked.
“I was emotional coming off the field not knowing what was going to happen. Not understanding why someone would say that to me.”
Martin, 25, who has previously played for MLS club DC United, also said he was grateful for the support of his team-mates and manager Landon Donovan, who had demanded action against Flemmings.
“For this team to show that there are more things that are important than the actual game means a lot,” he added.
San Diego Loyal had previously forfeited a match against LA Galaxy II after an alleged racial slur was aimed at midfielder Elijah Martin.
The player accused of making the comment has since been let go by Galaxy.
Flemmings had denied having using the slur but the USL Championship says his ban follows an investigation that included 11 interviews with players, coaches and match officials.
In a statement, Phoenix Rising said they “accepted and supported” the decision while offering an apology to all who were affected.
The club also announced that Flemmings will be placed on leave for the remainder of his existing contract and be provided with resources “he needs to learn and grow from, so that he may become a model for change”.
– Oct. 7, 2020 @ 10:34 GMT /