USL Championship: Phoenix Rising won't host final if it advances

The 2020 USL Championship final will be played at Louisville City or the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

The Phoenix Rising had the best record in the regular season and would have hosted the championship game if it beat the El Paso Locomotive in Saturday's Western Conference final, but it relinquished its hosting rights after a meeting with the USL league office.

The Rising only had best record because it was awarded three points after San Diego forfeited a match the Loyal was leading, 3-1. The Loyal refused to return after halftime because the Rising would not take Junior Flemmings, the USL Championship's leading scorer, out the game. The Jamaican made a homophobic slur at the Loyal's Collin Martin, who is gay, in the first half and was later suspended for six games.

The USL issued a statement that Phoenix requested to relinquish its hosting rights "out of respect for the LGBTQ community and recognition that hosting the Final after having been awarded three points following San Diego Loyal SC’s forfeiture due to the use of a homophobic slur by a Phoenix Rising player, was not appropriate and inconsistent with club values."

The USL added that it will work with its clubs and the USLPA on ways to strengthen its policies (including suspensions and forfeitures) to counter verbal abuse that takes place during matches.

USL Championship Semifinals
Eastern Conference
Louisville City (35) vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (33), 7:30 p.m. ET
Western Conference

Phoenix Rising (35) vs. El Paso Locomotive (32), 10:30 p.m. ET
Note: In parentheses are points in the regular season.
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