Collin Martin tweeted a statement Thursday afternoon in response to the incredible show of support by his teammates and coaches on the San Diego Loyal team, when he came face to face with homophobia during a soccer match, and a subsequent lack of accountability.
“We aren’t going to stand for hate in our game,” Martin tweeted, saying it was “truly moving” that his teammates walked off the field and forfeited their game Wednesday night when no action was taken against Phoenix Rising player Junior Flemings.
Just before halftime, the score Loyals 3, Rising 1, Martin reported Flemings to a ref, telling him Flemmings called him an anti-gay slur, “Batty Boy,” which is a derogatory term used in Jamaica to refer to gay and effeminate men. To Martin, it’s the equivalent of the “F” word, he said in his statement.
“This is not the first time I’ve heard this homophobic slur,” Martin said. “However it’s the first time in my eight-year playing career that it’s been directed at me during a game.”
My statement on what happened in last nights match. The response that followed from my coaches, teammates, and the entire @SanDiegoLoyal organization was truly moving. They had my back and wanted to make a statement that we aren’t going to stand for this hate in our game. pic.twitter.com/yhTxeL2XkC— Collin Martin (@martcw12) October 1, 2020
After sorting out some confusion, in which a ref red-carded Martin over a misunderstanding related to what he was reporting, Loyal manager Landon Donovan said he asked that referee to remove the offending player — he said he couldn’t — and then Donovan asked Rising manager Rick Schantz to do the same. He refused.
A fan, Clinton St. Claire, tweeted video of the aftermath, as the officials and coaches discussed the situation. The Athletic’s out bisexual sportswriter Jeff Rueter shared that video on YouTube:
With no action taken, each of the Loyal players took a knee at the start of the second half, and then walked off the field, causing the referee to declare a forfeit.
San Diego radio host Darren Smith shared a video of the fans in the stands applauding as the Loyal players walked off the field in protest.
Martin noted in his statement that when he confronted Flemmings on the field, he denied uttering the slur. Later Wednesday night, on Twitter, Flemmings “unequivocally” denied Martin’s accusation. He ended his tweeted statement by saying, “I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ movement.”
According to DMs with the Twitter account of one Mike Dickerson, the owner of the Phoenix team early today said he needed to do “fact-finding.”
“If he’s found to have said this,” owner Brandon McCarthy wrote in the DM, “he’s gone.” Dickerson, however, took him to task for floating what he described as a conspiracy.
The owner of @PHXRisingFC, @BMcCarthy32 is currently in my DMs claiming that @SanDiegoLoyal and @landondonovan may have engaged in a conspiracy to make up a slur and quit a playoff game #USSoccer pic.twitter.com/fWoOFeLXh6— Mike Dickerson (@MyDickerson) October 1, 2020
Loyals coach Donovan is contradicting what McCarthy claimed in the DMs about the ref not hearing the slur. According to Donovan, the referee said he heard Flemmings utter a word toward Martin, but that he didn’t know what it meant, and therefore could not eject him.
As our Jim Buzinski wrote, that would make sense if Flemmings used a gay slur in a Jamaican dialect that the referee didn’t understand. In the video posted by Rueter, Tarek Morad, one of Martin’s Loyal teammates, can be seen at the 33-second mark, walking up to Rising manager Rick Schantz, pointing at Schantz and saying, “I heard ‘batty boy.’”
The Phoenix Rising issued a statement late Wednesday about conducting its own investigation, as McCarthy DM’d, and Schantz tweeted an explanation as to why he asked Donovan a condescending question on the field about how long he’d been part of soccer.
Twitter has not been kind to Flemmings, whose tweeted statement has garnered more than 150 responses, some calling him a liar.
This isn't even close to what the video shows. Stop lying. The ref heard it, he just claimed not to know what it meant.— Dan #WearAMask (@DWolfRVA) October 1, 2020
Exactly. He wants us to believe they walked away from a game they were winning for nothing.— Kat Harris (@Katana134) October 1, 2020
All this comes just a week after a racial slur was directed at another member of the Loyal team. But whatever the outcome of these incidents, Martin said he and his organization are focused on “kicking hate out of the game.”
“What I truly want to focus on,” Martin wrote in his statement, “is the response of my coaches, teammates and the organization. Their 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 the game.”
A petition was started on Change.org advocating for a zero tolerance policy for all teams and players whenever a homophobic or racial slur is uttered during active play. As of press time, it has garnered more than 200 signatures in fewer than 24 hours. Fans and even rival teams showed their support for both Martin and the Loyal on Twitter.
Thank you for speaking out and fighting back. I made a huge step today after being inspired by your courage. Your actions, as well as @SanDiegoLoyal’s, will change the game and make it better for all. Thank you, thank you, thank you.— Meredith Miklasz (@thesoccerdomme_) October 1, 2020
This is so amazing of them to support you!!! Never thought I would see the day that something like this could happen in sports! I hope it encourages so many more to be this brave and be themselves!— Robby⁷ (@RobertPesta) October 1, 2020
We are so incredibly proud of you for taking a stand! Thank you for continuing to be such a positive role model for all of our young players and members of the BSC Community. We stand with you 100%!— @bethesdascnews (@bethesdascnews) October 1, 2020
Martin came out as gay in 2018 while playing for Minnesota United of MLS. This is his first season with the Loyal, who play in the second division USL Championship league.
Follow Collin Martin on Twitter by clicking here.