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Junior’s major controversy - Phoenix Rising striker says San Diego opened him up to abuse after allegations of homophobia

Published:Friday | October 2, 2020 | 12:15 AMRachid Parchment/Assistant Sports Editor
Junior Flemmings (right) in action for Jamaica during a Concacaf Gold Cup match against Panama in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Junior Flemmings (right) in action for Jamaica during a Concacaf Gold Cup match against Panama in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, June 30, 2019.

Junior Flemmings, the Jamaican Phoenix Rising player alleged to have used a homophobic slur against an openly gay opponent during a United Soccer League (USL) match on Wednesday night, feels hard done by.

It is alleged that Flemmings used a Jamaican homophobic slur in reference to San Diego Loyal midfielder Collin Martin during the first half of their game. Martin, after being red-carded for his reaction, brought the match officials’ attention to the situation before his team decided to forfeit the match even though they were leading 3-1 at the time.

Flemmings, who denies the allegation, gave his side of the incident after the game and said he was disappointed at the Loyal’s actions as he believes they have subjected him to “ridicule online with no opportunity to defend himself”.

“This accusation is false, and my fellow teammates will support my claim,” Flemmings said in a statement on Twitter. “Throughout the match, I battled with the San Diego defence to do my job and score goals. In the 45th minute, the referee issued a red card to Collin Martin. The San Diego defence then attempted to persuade the referee’s decision and convince him he made a mistake. San Diego claimed that I made a homophobic slur towards Collin Martin with no evidence to support the claim. The referee was then mobbed by the San Diego Loyal players and head coach on the field. The referee then had to step back and discuss with his assistants to better understand the situation.

“The referee admitted he did not hear any homophobic slurs and was utterly confused by the situation.”

But Loyal’s head coach, Landon Donovan, says the referee did hear the alleged slur.

“I asked the referee to do something about it. He said he couldn’t. He said he heard the word. He knew the word was said, but he didn’t know what it means,” Donovan said. “He couldn’t interpret it. He didn’t want to send him off because he didn’t know what it means. Fair enough, I could understand that. If you don’t speak another language, if you don’t speak whatever that was, Jamaican, then that’s fine.”


Martin said the reason he was initially shown the red card was because when explaining to the referee what had been allegedly said to him, it confused him.

“During the next stoppage in play, I tried telling the ref that a gay slur had been directed towards me, however, he got confused and thought I called him gay. Hence why I was mistakenly given a red card thereafter,” he said.

Phoenix said they are investigating the claim and that they “stand with the USL in rejecting and punishing any homophobic behaviour”.

The USL also said that it is investigating the matter.

“Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches,” the league said.

The incident is the second allegation of discrimination against a Loyal player recently as the team walked off the field during a game against the LA Galaxy II eight days ago when a black Loyal player was racially abused.