PHOENIX RISING’S Junior Flemmings was banned for six games after using a homophobic slur at a gay opponent.
Jamaica international Flemmings, 24, directed the insult at San Diego Loyal midfielder Collin Martin, 25, during a USL Championship game in September.
Martin is the only openly gay professional player in America.
In response to the incident last month, the Loyal players walked off the pitch at half-time, forfeiting the game and their chance of making the play-offs despite leading 3-1.
The USL is the second-tier competition below the MLS in the US and a league statement confirmed the ban.
It read: “Following an investigation that included interviews with 11 individuals, including players, coaches and match officials, a six-game suspension and undisclosed fine has been issued 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.”
At the time Flemmings initially denied that he had called Martin a ‘batty boy’.
He said: “At no point did I say a homophobic slur towards Collin Martin.
“I do not know Collin personally, but I respect all of my opponents equally, Collin included.
“I am disappointed by San Diego’s actions this evening as I have been mauled and ridiculed online with no opportunity to defend myself.”
Martin, who was sent-off for his reaction before having his red card rescinded, said: “I never had a word said to me like that.
“I have heard homophobic language throughout my career and growing up but not to the point where it was directed at me like that. I felt personally attacked.
“I was emotional coming off the field not knowing what was going to happen. Not understanding why someone would say that to me.
“For this team to show that there are more things that are important than the actual game means a lot.”
Loyal’s manager is former Everton Premier League ace Landon Donovan, 38, who brought the comment to the officials’ attention and when Risings boss Rick Schantz declined to sub Flemmings marched his team off the field.
The controversy came just a week after Loyal had forfeited another match against LA Galaxy II after an alleged racial slur was directed at Loyal midfielder Elijah Martin.
The Galaxy player involved has since been released.
Donovan said: “We went through a really hard incident last week in the LA match and we made a vow to ourselves, to our community, to our players, to the club, to USL, that we would not stand for bigotry, homophobic slurs, things that don’t belong in our game.”