Phoenix Rising midfielder, Junior Flemmings has been banned for six matches for a homophobic slur directed at San Diego Loyal's Collin Martin, which led to his team walking off the field in protest.
The Jamaica international, 24, was found to have directed "foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur" at Martin,25, who is the only out gay player in US professional men's soccer, during the match last Wednesday at the Torero Stadium.
The referee had mistakenly sent Martin off after he misinterpreted the claims when the player reported the abuse, but the decision was later rescinded as a discussion took place between the two managers.
After the half-time break, Loyal players and staff including their manager, United States legend Landon Donovan returned to the stadium only to take a knee at the start of the second half before walking off the pitch following the reported use of the term 'batty boy' - a Jamaican slur used to belittle gay.
Flemmings issued a statement on social media denying the abuse, but Rising placed him on administrative leave as the league conducted an investigation into the incident.
The player has now been disciplined by the league.
In a statement, the league confirmed his punishment stating: "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."
"With the support of the USLPA and the USLBPA, the United Soccer League announced last Thursday a partnership with The Institute for Sport and Social Justice which will see The Institute provide league-wide sensitivity training and education for all staff and players ahead of the 2021 season.
"In addition, both Phoenix Rising FC and San Diego Loyal SC released a joint statement this past Saturday announcing the clubs have committed to work together toward the development of educational programs intended to make our sport, our league, and our communities better, more compassionate places."
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