SAN DIEGO – It certainly wasn’t planned that way, but San Diego Loyal SC ended its first USL Championship season with a forfeit Wednesday night.
Players, coaches and staff took a knee at the start of the second half of a match against visiting Phoenix Rising FC and then walked off the pitch protesting the use of a homophobic slur.
Former U.S. international standout Landon Donovan is San Diego manager.
Collin Martin, who the slur was directed towards, walked up the ramp at Torero Stadium with teammates rallying around him, each sharing an embrace as they made their way to the locker room. The incident happened moments prior to halftime of SD Loyal’s regular season finale as the team was vying for a post season berth.
San Diego forfeited the match in support of Martin.
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) October 1, 2020
The forfeit comes after Loyal also opted to forfeit a point after a 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy II in its previous match. San Diego’s Elijah Martin was the victim of a racial slur by a LA Galaxy II player in the second half of that Group B match. The team decided to lose the point in support of Martin and its stance against racism.
San Diego led 3-1 with goals by Miguel Berry (second minute) and a pair by Rubio Rubin (20th and first-half stoppage time) when the homophobic slur was used. Players and both team’s coaches reportedly heard the slur but the match referees did nothing about it. Instead, Martin was shown a red card that later was rescinded.
Flemmings reportedly used the homophobic slur as Phoenix Rising FC pushed up field with counter attacks after Samuel Stanton had scored for the visitors a minute earlier.
San Diego entered the match in contention for second place and for the final post season spot in the group. A win against Phoenix Wednesday night would have put the team in a strong post for a playoff berth, pending the results that would happen Saturday night.
“Instead, SD Loyal finishes its first season in the USL Championship with consecutive forfeits, making a strong message that it will not stand for such behavior,” the team said in a statement.