There's zero tolerance for homophobia in soccer, according to the United Soccer League.
The USL has suspended Richard Chaplow for two games and fined him an undisclosed amount following allegations from Robbie Rogers, the league's only openly gay player, that Chaplow repeatedly called him a "queer" during a Saturday game.
"We cannot, nor will we, condone any language that is counter to the values we have instilled throughout the USL," said USL president Jake Edwards in a press release.
The incident took place during a match between the Orange County Blues and the L.A. Galaxy II, the reserve squad for Los Angeles's pro team. The weekend game was Rogers's return to the sport after six weeks on the bench following surgery for an ankle injury.
According to Rogers, tension on the field escalated in the game's final minutes.
"In the heat of the last 15 minutes of the game, a player from the opposing team called me a 'queer' repeatedly," Rogers wrote in an Instagram post. "To be honest, my initial reaction was one of shock."
The player added that the alleged incident was his first experience with homophobia in soccer since coming out four years ago, a disclosure that made him the only out gay athlete playing in a professional American team sport. Rogers said he does not regret being honest about his sexuality and urged others to do the same.
"I am proud more than ever that I had the courage to come out as a queer man," Rogers said. "I feel so fortunate to have gotten to share my story with others and to have gotten to play this sport I love so much as an openly gay person."
Although Chaplow admits he used profane language on the field, he contests Rogers's version of events.
"I swore several times at Rogers for overreacting to a foul," Chaplow told the U.K.'s The Telegraph, "but at no time was the language homophobic."
"I feel it's important that people realise what the ban is for," the 31-year-old midfielder continued. "I have a close family member that is openly part of LGBT community so to suggest I'm homophobic is ridiculous and there is no evidence to support this."
During a three-day investigation of the incident that transpired Saturday evening, the USL could find not find "compelling" proof of homophobic epithets being used during the altercation. The league surveilled videotape of the event, as well as speaking to players and referees about whether they overheard antigay slurs hurled at Rogers.
"That lack of confirmation is why the league," reports ESPN FC, "which received criticism on social media over the perceived lightness of the ban, decided not to hand out a heavier sanction."
Rogers will play his next game with the Galaxy II against the Swope Park Rangers Saturday.