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Soccer Player Suspended, Fined After Homophobic Slur Investigation

The USL Championships soccer league has suspended and fined Junior "Flemmo" Flemmings for hurling a homophobic slur at out opponent Collin Martin during a game last week.

Junior “Flemmo” Flemmings was accused of using homophobic language towards Collin Martin, a gay player.

The USL Championship soccer league has punished a player who was accused of using a homophobic slur against an opposing player in a league game last week. Phoenix Rising FC midfielder Junior "Flemmo" Flemmings has been suspended for six games and fined an undisclosed amount following a league investigation into accusations he verbally abused out San Diego Loyal midfielder Collin Martin during a game. Durng the game, the Loyal took a knee and then walked off the field in protest after Flemmings went unpunished, forfeiting both a game they were leading and their remaining playoff chances.

"Phoenix Rising accepts and supports the results of this investigation," the team's General Manager Bobby Dulle said in a statement. "These actions could not be more contrary to the core values of our organization, and we apologize to all who were affected."

According to multiple reports, Flemmings called Martin a "batty boy," a derogatory homophobic slur commonly used in Flemmings's native Jamaica. Martin is the only out player in the USL. While the referee acknowledged he heard the slur, he was unsure what it meant. Loyal coach Landon Donovan asked the Phoenix coach Rick Schanz to step in and bench the player. When Schanz did not, and instead ardently defended his player, going so far as to shrug off the impact of homophobia, the Loyal team made the decision to take a stand by taking a knee as a team and then walking off the field, forfeiting the game in the process along with their remaining playoffi changes.

Flemmings initially denied the accusation, saying he was "disappointed" with Loyal's actions and claiming he had been "mauled and ridiculed online with no opportunity" to defend himself.

Prior to the release of the league's findings in the investigation, Schanz issued a statement apologizing for his actions and explaining he "did not understand the accusation fully" at the time and that his "immediate reaction" was to defend his player and team.

"While this was not my intent or personal belief, upon reflection, I fully understand my comments were wrong," Schanz tweeted, saying he also understands the "justifiable anger" for the pain he caused. "I should have immediately acknowledged and denounced any anti-gay comments."

The Loyal issued a statement saying while they do not want players to be bullied by opponents exhibiting "unfortunate lapses of judgements when fueled by passion and competition," they also "believe in second chances and look forward to working with Phoenix Rising" to "forgive, educate, and grow from these moments."

Despite the conciliatory words from the Loyal, Schanz still regrets not doing more. However, he intends to learn from the events.

"I am disappointed in myself and I'm committed to becoming a better human on this issue in the future."

RELATED | Pro Soccer Team Forfeits Winning Game Over Homophobic Slur

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