During Wednesday's game between the San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC, the Loyal walked off the pitch in protest after a Rising player allegedly directed an anti-LGBTQ slur at San Diego midfielder Collin Martin.
Martin, 26, came out as gay in 2018 while playing for the Minnesota United of the MLS, making him at the time the only out active athlete in all men's major league sports in the U.S.
Last week, San Diego forfeited a match in protest after an opposing player from the Los Angeles Galaxy II used the n-word toward a Loyal player. Landon Donovan, former U.S. national team starter and current co-owner, executive vice president and manager of the Loyal, issued a statement following the forfeiture saying the team "needed to stand up for something much bigger than a soccer game."
After Wednesday's incident, Donovan and Rising coach Rick Schantz discussed what happened with match officials, with Donovan reacting incredulously to Schantz's approach to what occurred.
The USL Championship issued a statement after the match, saying an investigation into the incident is already underway.
“We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight’s match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC. Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches. An investigation is currently underway to determine the facts surrounding the incident and more information will be provided as soon as it is available.”
Martin released a statement Thursday, saying, in part, "[My teammates'] collective decision to walk off the field in solidarity and forfeit the match speaks volumes of their support for me and what this organization is standing up to. Ultimately, I hope this can be another example that we have a long way to go in educating ourselves and kicking hate out of our game."