United Soccer League has suspended Orange County Blues midfielder Richard Chaplow two games and fined him an undisclosed amount for verbally abusing LA Galaxy's Robbie Rogers with homophobic language, the league announced on Wednesday.
While it does not specifically refer to the incident by name, USL's release acknowledged that the 31-year-old Chaplow, a former England U-21 international and longtime player England's top three tiers of soccer, was disciplined "for offensive and abusive language directed at another player during his team’s game against the LA Galaxy II on Aug. 20."
Rogers, who was playing for Galaxy II while working his way back from an injury, claimed that a Blues player called him "queer" repeatedly during the last 15 minutes of their match in an extensive Facebook post. Rogers is MLS's only openly gay player.
“The USL has zero tolerance for this type of behavior,” USL president Jake Edwards said in a statement. “We cannot, nor will we, condone any language that is counter to the values we have instilled throughout the USL.”
Chaplow denies using such language, telling The Telegraph:
"I have been banned for swearing at a player, not homophobic slurs. At no point in the statement is a homophobic slur made reference to, and the simple reason for this is it didn't happen. I swore several times at Rogers for over reacting to a foul, but at no time was the language homophobic and no evidence has been found of this, hence the way the statement has been wrote.
"I feel it's important that people realize what the ban is for. I have a close family member that is openly part of LGBT community so to suggest I'm homophobic is ridiculous and there is no evidence to support this."
In the past, MLS has levied harsher bans on players for verbal abuse of a similar nature. Colin Clark and Marc Burch were each banned three games in 2012, while Alan Gordon received a three-game ban in 2013.