Landon Donovan after forfeit to protest homophobic slur: 'We have to speak, we have to act'

In the final match of the USL Championship regular season with playoff implications, the San Diego Loyal walked off the field to start the second half with a 3-1 lead to protest a homophobic slur its players said was directed at one of its players.

Collin Martin, who is gay, was the target of the slur at the end of the first half. According to the Loyal, the Rise's Junior Flemmings used a homophobic slur directed at Martin that was heard by players  players and both team coaches. Martin was issued a red card that was later rescinded at halftime after he went over to the fourth official, Samatha Martinez, and explained what happened.

Landon Donovan, who coaches the Loyal, and Phoenix head coach Rick Schantz met with the match officials to discuss the incident and rescission of the red card.

Before the start of the second half, Donovan told referee Joseph Salinas and Schantz that Loyal players agreed they would not continue the game unless Flemmings, who is Jamaican, was removed from the game. Salinas said he could not red card Flemming because he did not understand the slur -- The Athletic's Jeff Rueter reported it to be "batty boy" -- and Schantz said he would not take Flemmings out of the game.

"Our guys, to their immense credit, just said, 'We're not going to stand for this,' Donovan said in a postgame interview. "They were very clear in that moment that they were giving up all hopes of making the playoffs, even though they were beating one of the best teams in the league handedly. But they said that doesn't matter, there's things more important in life and we have to stick up for what we believe in. And so they made the decision to walk off."

It was the second game in a row the Loyal was involved in an incident. It stated it was forfeiting the point earned in a 1-1 tie against LA Galaxy II because of a racial slur directed at Elijah Martin (no relation to Collin Martin) by Omar Ontiveros, who was quickly suspended by the USL and released by the Galaxy.

Donovan said the one regret after the Galaxy II game was that the Loyal did not do something in the moment after Elijah Martin was racially abused. He said Loyal and Rising players had agreed to stop play and hold a banner together in the 71st minute -- the minute of the incident in the Galaxy II games -- saying, "I will speak, I will act." With that in mind and what his team had been through, he said the latest incident was "devastating."
Flemmings denied saying a homophobic slur to Martin.

USL statement:

“We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight’s match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC. Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches. An investigation is currently underway to determine the facts surrounding the incident and more information will be provided as soon as it is available.”

The standings on the USL's Web site don't currently reflect forfeits in either game.
18 comments about "Landon Donovan after forfeit to protest homophobic slur: 'We have to speak, we have to act'".
  1. Bob Ashpole, October 1, 2020 at 8:47 a.m.

    If Landon is so angry about this, how angry would he be if it turns out one or more of his players were lying to the referee about a ficticious slur. It sounds so juvenile, but player careers are at stake.

  2. Paul Krieg replied, October 1, 2020 at 9:17 a.m.

    Bob Ashpole. Article clearly says the slur was "heard by players and both team coaches."  Assuming the author is correct, I stand with Donovan.

    Why does every abuse situation get dismissed as lying, at least in this country. Europe at least had the integrity to add zero tolerance for this crap. Not perfect but a lot less banana throwing and monkey chants.  I'd love to see the NFL or MLB suspend players or empty stadiums.  Instead, the knee jerk in this country is that every claim of abuse is a lie.  

  3. beautiful game replied, October 1, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.

     Kudos for Donovan and his players to show unity and support for their player. This kind of behavior has no place on the pitch or anywhere else. 

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, October 1, 2020 at 4:09 p.m.

    Paul, you should watch Donovan's clip.

  5. uffe gustafsson replied, October 1, 2020 at 6:10 p.m.

    The referee even said he heard it but didn't understand it was a homophobic slur.
    Batty boy to someone who don't know what it means clearly don't understand that it was a slur.
    its time to stamp out homophobic and racial slurs on and off the field.
    you have to be really dumb to use slurs at other players with especially social media so quickly get any offender out in the open. You can't hide your predgidist  

  6. cony konstin, October 1, 2020 at 11:20 a.m.

    If you don't stand for something then you stand for nothing. 


    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". Edmund Burke 1770

  7. Ruth Nicholson, October 1, 2020 at 1:33 p.m.

    Something doesn't add up here. The two stories do not overlap in their content. The accused player says he didn't say the slur and has people to back him up. The Loyal are adamant that the slur occurred and that multiple people heard it, including the coaches, which implies that it would have been loud enough for multiple people to hear. The referee didn't hear it. 

    I am glad USL is investigating. Such language is simply unacceptable. And the accused deserves a fair hearing, and if appropriate, stiff consequences if the slur was made. 

    Jumping to conclusions simply because one of the coaches is famous, is also inappropriate. I'm waiting for someone to help sort out what really happened.

    Does anyone find it curious that Loyal has been involved in such an incident in two successive games?

  8. Kam Siu replied, October 1, 2020 at 3:49 p.m.

    Yea, but when one team forfeits a game they're winning 3-1 over it, that's the one I believe until evidence to the contrary.

    And no, I don't find it curious.  We are, after all, talking about a sport that still needs an entire campaign to kick bigotry out of it's game.

  9. Rick Wolfen replied, October 1, 2020 at 7:27 p.m.

    You are 100% wrong - get the facts correct before you tweet anything - the referee said he heard it - but he didn't know what it meant, so he said he could not eject the player.  This is pretty simple - no conspiracy - and the coach who left the player on the pitch should be fired - I am a coach and I would expect no less if I did what he did - to say to Landon that "this is a part of the game just proves the adage that "it is better to be thought a fool and remain silent than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!"

  10. Peter Kurilecz, October 1, 2020 at 5:36 p.m.

    took awhile before the name of the individual who allegedly said the slur was publish

  11. Stephen Selby, October 1, 2020 at 7:20 p.m.

    SA states "Collin Martin, who is gay, was the target of the slur at the end of the first half."
    Article also states "According to the Loyal, the Rise's Junior Flemmings used a homophobic slur directed at Martin that was heard by players  players and both team coaches." The facts will come out in the investigation and of course Landon was correct in backing his players and in his statements to the media.
    SA should have inseted 'alleged' before 'slur' to protect themselves froim legal possible ramifications.

  12. Craig Cummings, October 1, 2020 at 9:23 p.m.

    well done LD

  13. Joe Ver, October 1, 2020 at 10:35 p.m.

    Way to go Landon and the San Diego Loyal!  You showed more coaching accumen in that decision then most coaches show in a whole game.  

  14. Jeanine Valadez, October 2, 2020 at 3:14 a.m.

    Anybody who has played with or against, or coached any Jamaican or Carribbean players (or those that like reggae music), has unfortunately heard that term.  It gets thrown around a lot, especially in the club, music, and social worlds as well.  That referee is clearly too cloistered in his white world and has not done the homework to understand when disrespectful langauage is being thrown at him or others.  Any referee worth his salt knows to study the dirty and abusive words in foreign languages common to the league to be able to throw yellow and red cards as necessary. At the very least, he could have instituted a review and done a simple Google search to confirm the meaning of the word he admitted hearing. We're not talking about some rare dialect from a rare tribe of people.  This is a common reggae slur. It has no place in the game.  I am proud of Landon and his team for standing up for their teammate.

  15. frank schoon replied, October 3, 2020 at 9:38 a.m.

    What's next Jeanine? The USSF will hold a special course for referees, coaches, and players that would cover all the nasty words in all languages that shouldn't be spoken of on the field. And if you are 'white', you must also attend several cultural parties a year. In other words, you must attend a reggae party, a hispanic party, an African party. In order to get credit for having going to these cultural events, you must send in the formal invitation saying you have attented. 

    Or ,how 'bout the USSF make a CD sponsored by Rosetta Stone that covers all the silly nasty  words of different culturals that are used in soccer games among players....How about that as a step to get out of this 'cloistered' white world.....

  16. Patrick Dalton, October 2, 2020 at 12:43 p.m.

    I've always been a fan of LD. I see two sides to this story. There is part of me that feels LD did the right thing. However there is another side the coach in me that would tell my team to use this as motivation to crush this team. I'm not sure if walking away is the message that should be sent although it did make an impact.

  17. frank schoon replied, October 3, 2020 at 9:18 a.m.

    Patrick , you are absolutely right. I'm from the old school, I wasn't taught to act like a cry baby when someone called me a name and proceed to walk off the field. Having played an offensive position all my life ,I received plenty of verbal taunting which only strengthen my resolution of wanting to beat this player and make him look bad. I would taunt him back  by attempting to putting it between his legs, or when he dribbles and loses the ball, I would say, 'dribble much'. This is what gets one's juices going. 

  18. Paul Krieg, October 3, 2020 at 12:31 p.m.

    Donovan clearly says the referee heard the slur.  The referee was not clear on the meaning in patois, but heard it.  Not a chance this was a lie.  

    why is it that every assertion of abuse is assumed to be a lying victim?  Even Bob Ashpoles defense - "watch then clip" - misrepresents what happened.  The clips says the rev heard what was sai.  STOP SAYING THE VICTIM LIED AND STOP CRYING ABOUT THE CAREER OF THE ABUSER

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