This morning we were shocked and disgusted to see that a member of the American soccer community was a target of homophobic abuse on the soccer pitch. Ex-MNUFC midfielder Collin Martin, who plays for San Diego Loyal, was the subject of a homophobic slur thrown by an opponent from Phoenix Rising FC. San Diego Loyal and their technical staff walked off the pitch when no action was taken against the player who hurled the slur. This is the second instance of hate directed at Loyal players after Elijah Martin was racially abused in a game last week.
Collin is still to this day, the only active openly gay male pro soccer player in America. His decision to come out in 2018 made him (at the time) the only openly gay sportsman in any of the big five American sports leagues for men (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS), and the only openly LGBT male player in a top-flight national championship in professional soccer. Collin’s bravery should be an example to the entire world and it disgusts us to see it rewarded with hate.
Hate is not “part of the game”. The national or linguistic origin of the slur has no bearing on this. Hate of any kind has no place in soccer (or society) and it must be confronted. To be silent is to be complicit and perpetuate it. As Loyal manager Landon Donovan put it, “We have to act.”
We applaud the San Diego Loyal players and staff for being allies to Collin and Elijah Martin. Their decisions to forfeit a point last week and to walk off the pitch last night are exemplars of how a team should act in these situations. To quote Donovan again, “What’s the point of the BLM jerseys/armbands, the kneeling before every game and the commitment to ending racism if we don’t address it when it happens right before our eyes? This is NEVER acceptable and we will not stand for it.”
We encourage USL to take a strong stand in this matter and ask other teams, leagues, players and staff to reflect on what they would do when confronted with a similar issue. Will you be allies and act to kick hate out of the game?