By walking off, Loyal forfeited the match and ended their chances of reaching the playoffs.
In the past soccer players and teams have talked of walking off the pitch when confronted with homophobic or racist abuse but Loyal’s proactive stance in a competitive game is a rarity.
The alleged abuse was directed at midfielder Collin Martin, according to the club, after he was issued a red card at the end of the first half, with the Loyal leading 3-1 in the second-tier USL Championship. The red card was subsequently rescinded.
Loyal’s manager, former US international Landon Donovan, was involved in a heated exchange with both the referee and Rising Phoenix coach Rick Schantz at half-time.
Loyal’s players returned after the break but walked off when the referee blew his whistle.
‘We have to act’
Wednesday’s incident comes after Loyal forfeited a match against LA Galaxy II last week after an alleged racial slur was aimed at another San Diego player.
The Galaxy and the player accused of making the comment “mutually agreed to part ways” according to a statement from the club.
“I know how hard it was for them to even take the field tonight given everything that happened, and then for it to happen again a week later was just devastating for me.
“Our guys, to their immense credit, said we were not going to stand for this. They were very clear in that moment that they were giving up all hopes of making the playoffs, even though they were beating one of the best teams in the league.
“They said it doesn’t matter. There are things more important in life and we have to stick up for what we believe in.
“If we want to be true to who we are as a club, we have to speak, and we have to act.”
Rising said the club is investigating the claim but that its player “vehemently denied” using the slur.
Flemmings, the player accused, said he had been “mauled and ridiculed online with no opportunity to defend myself” and said he stood “in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ movement.”
“At no point did I say a homophobic slur towards Collin Martin. I do not know Collin personally, but I respect all of my opponents equally, Collin included,” he wrote on Twitter.
Collin Martin is yet to publicly comment on the incident.
“Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches,” it read.
“An investigation is currently underway to determine the facts surrounding the incident and more information will be provided as soon as it is available.”