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Sebastian Lletget suspended 2 matches by MLS for calling teammate a gay slur

Sebastian Lletget has expressed remorse for using the slur and has committed to helping the LGBTQ community.

Sebastian Lletget will miss the next two LA Galaxy matches and has committed to helping make soccer a welcoming place for LGBTQ people.
Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Sebastian Lletget, the LA Galaxy player and member of the US Men’s National Team, has been suspended two matches by Major League Soccer for calling a teammate a gay slur and posting it on Instagram.

In addition, Lletget is being fined by the league and is required to attend diversity training.

Lletget was allowed to play in the club’s season opener April 18 at Inter Miami, which the Galaxy won, 3-2. I was critical of the decision to allow Lletget to play, afraid the league was undermining its own claim of “zero tolerance.”

The league’s actions on Friday demonstrate a clear commitment to that “zero tolerance” of homophobic slurs in the league, and its firm position that the term “puto” has no place in the sport.

Some may question why he’s receiving only a two-game suspension instead of three games, which MLS has handed down in the past when gay slurs have been used in anger between opponents.

Frankly, I was expecting a one-game suspension. Lletget has taken full responsibility and spoken passionately about this, demonstrating a real understanding of what he did. I appreciate that some education is always welcome, and in this case I know he’ll really embrace it.

The league is going above and beyond my expectations here to make sure a clear message is sent.

“MLS acknowledges and appreciates Lletget’s prompt apology and the accountability he has taken for his actions,” the league said in a statement.

Hopefully more education and conversation will be done throughout the league to continue to bring other players’ attention to this issue — and a two-game suspension will certainly get their attention. Gay, bi and queer athletes are hurt far more when they hear slurs from teammates than when an opponent uses the term. Slurs and heterosexist language build an environment on the club and in the locker room where those closeted athletes hear, “You don’t belong here.”

Good on MLS for not dismissing this issue.

For his part, Lletget has been a positive voice in soccer, using his platform to support various marginalized communities. I’m sure he will do that here as well. To be honest, he’s already started doing it in not avoiding the issue and speaking about it directly with the media.

You can read the full statement from Major League Soccer here:

Major League Soccer today announced that LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget has been fined an undisclosed amount and suspended for two matches for the use of a homophobic slur in an Instagram post on April 9. In addition, Lletget is required to attend diversity, equity and inclusion training through Athlete Ally.

Lletget will serve the two-game suspension during the Galaxy’s next two regular season MLS matches, against the New York Red Bulls on April 25 and against Seattle Sounders FC on May 2.

MLS acknowledges and appreciates Lletget’s prompt apology and the accountability he has taken for his actions.