A soccer team walked off the field during a winning match because a player on the opposing team allegedly hurled an antigay slur at one of its gay teammates.
A player on Phoenix Rising “used a homophobic slur directed at Collin Martin,” San Diego Loyal SC, the California city’s professional soccer team, claimed on Twitter. “In response we have decided to walk off the pitch in protest.”
Martin, formerly a player with the Major League Soccer team Minnesota United, came out as gay in 2018; at the time, he was the only out gay man in a major American sports league.
San Diego led 3-1 in the Wednesday game when it made the decision to forfeit, reports NBC News. The decision may have cost the team its chance at the playoffs.
However, "there are more important things in life [than playoffs], and we have to stick up for what we believe in,” asserted head coach Landon Donovan.
"I understand that most people watching from afar probably don’t really get it, but we’ve been living it," he said, adding that the team had promised to reject "bigotry, homophobic slurs, things that don’t belong in our game."
Last week, the team forfeited another match after a Los Angeles Galaxy player allegedly directed a racist comment at a Black teammate. After the incident, the player was then suspended and let go by his team.
The United Soccer League is now investigating the alleged use of the antigay slur.
“Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches,” USL said in a statement. “An investigation is currently underway to determine the facts surrounding the incident and more information will be provided as soon as it is available.”
In its own statement, Phoenix Rising said it is "investigating the claim of a homophobic slur being used by one its players who has vehemently denied these allegations. Phoenix Rising stands with the USL in rejecting and punishing any homophobic behavior."
Meanwhile, San Diego Loyal SC is proving it remains loyal to the cause of acceptance. “Last week we made it loud and clear that we do not stand for racism or homophobia. Nothing has changed this week,” the team stated on Twitter.