Football manager Landon Donovan has spoken out after his team, the San Diego Loyal, walked off the pitch and forfeited a game over an alleged anti-gay slur directed at gay teammate Collin Martin [pictured below] yesterday.
Donovan, who used to play for Everton, explained the team "would not stand" for bigotry in a video shared on their official Twitter page.
The incident occurred during a USL Championship game against Phoenix Rising, and followed a row over an alleged racial slur made at San Diego Loyal player Elijah Martin last week.
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) October 1, 2020
“We went through a really hard incident last week in the LA match," Donovan explained.
"And we made a vow to ourselves, to our community, our players, to the club, to USL [United Soccer League], that we would not stand for bigotry, homophobic slurs, things that don’t belong in our game."
Donovan also used to play for LA Galaxy, at the same time as out gay footballer Robbie Rogers.
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The 38-year-old continued: “So much so that on our signboards we made a statement saying: “I will act, I will speak”, so if something happens I’m going to speak about it and I’m going to act about it. Because last week our one regret was we should have done something in the moment when Elijah was racially abused.
He later added: “In the end of the first half [of the most recent game] Colin came over to the fourth official, after crazily somehow he got red carded, and told the fourth official he had been abused by a homophobic slur by one of their players.
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“When I heard that I lost it. Because I know what this team has gone through, I know how hard it was for them to even take the field tonight given everything that happened. For it to happen again a week later was just devastating for me.
“So it was a really difficult 20 minutes. Our players [...] still wanted to play. We were kicking Phoenix’s ass, right? And that’s a great feeling, as a soccer player. But, if we want to be true to who we are as a club, we have to speak, we have to act."
Donovan then explained that the team decided that "if the player who used the homophobic slur was not removed from the game, either through the officials or through their coach, we were not going to play. Because if they’re not willing to act, we have to act. We have no choice."
Donovan then claimed the referee told him he couldn't act on the slur, despite hearing it, because he didn't understand what it meant or the language it was spoken in.
Continued Donovan: “I also then went to their coach and said, I want to be clear on this: we’ve had a really hard week. He and I talked about this before the game, about how much we’ve been through. I just said, if you don’t pull the player off the field, if you don’t sub him off, our players are not going to play. We have to make a stand. So either you do it, or else we’re going to have to do it. He said ‘I’m not going to sub him off the field.’ I said 'That's fair, that's your choice.'"
San Diego Loyal then took a stand and "made the decision to walk off".
Donovan then spoke of his "tremendous pride" for his team's stance.
The news follows last week's report of closeted LGBTq professional footballers saying in an open letter that they were "too scared" to come out.
Attitude has approached San Diego Loyal and Phoenix Rising for comment.