The USL Championship handed down a lengthy suspension on Tuesday for the use of a homophobic slur in a Sept. 30th match.
Phoenix Rising’s Junior Flemmings has been suspended six games following an investigation that included interviews with 11 individuals, including players, coaches and match officials. Flemmings was found guilty of the use of foul and abusive language during the club’s match against San Diego Loyal SC.
Per the player’s contract, Flemmings could also be subject to additional discipline from Phoenix Rising FC and remains on administrative leave. His suspension covers the entirety of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs.
The incident happened against the Loyal’s Collin Martin, the only openly active gay player in the USL. Following the incident, the Loyal was handed a forfeit after walking off the field in support of Martin. The incident also happened one week after one of the Loyal’s players was the target of a racial slur.
“Our guys, to their immense credit, just said, ‘We’re not going to stand for this’,” Loyal head coach Landon Donovan said post match. “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, handily. But they said it 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 and I have tremendous pride in this group.”
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.
Phoenix is currently in first place of Group B in the USL Championship with 35 points in 16 matches. Flemmings, a native of Jamaica, leads the Rising with 14 goals in 14 appearances this season.