San Diego Loyal: Landon Donovan did the right thing

Landon Donovan’s San Diego Loyal did the right thing in protest

In case you didn’t know, Landon Donovan’s San Diego Loyal has forfeited their second match in a week, last week against LA Galaxy II, this week against Phoenix Rising, to protest racist and homophobic abuse directed towards their players.

I felt compelled to write this when I saw dozens of people on Twitter (I know) reacting to the video of Landon Donovan speaking to the officials and Phoenix Rising manager Rick Schantz. This came following the abuse towards San Diego Loyal midfielder Collin Martin, currently the only openly gay male athlete in US professional sports.

In the video, the official comes to Donovan and Schantz and says he was told of homophobic abuse directed towards Martin, using a slur I’m not going to write here. The official explains that since he doesn’t know what the slur means, he’s not going to send the perpetrating player off. Donovan then says, “…we’ve got to get this out of our game, they’re calling our player gay,” to which Schantz appears to reply, “He didn’t mean it, how long have you been playing soccer?”

Racism and homophobic abuse should not exist in the world of soccer

Far too much of the reaction on Twitter was calling both Donovan, and San Diego Loyal, soft for leaving the field of play in protest. Some cited then Barcelona player Dani Alves eating a banana thrown at him in an act of racism in 2014. This reaction is what made me write this.

Racist and homophobic abuse has no place in soccer, or sports in general, and there should be absolutely no tolerance for it. San Diego Loyal, unfortunately for the second time in a week, has unquestionably done the right thing in forfeiting.

Any competition where abuse is allowed should not be recognized, and that’s what San Diego Loyal are saying by forfeiting. This form of protest is nothing new; the first notable instance occurring when then AC Milan player Kevin-Prince Boateng and his teammates walked off following monkey chants directed towards the Ghanaian international during a friendly in 2013.

FC Porto striker Moussa Marega walked off the pitch after he was racially abused just this February, and last October several players of the England national team were racially abused during a match in Bulgaria. In an article written by Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post, here is what Tyrone Mings said of this racial abuse…

“The [UEFA] protocols had been followed, and if it happened again, we would have then perhaps moved onto the next step and come off the pitch,” said Tyrone Mings, England international and Aston Villa star.

And so, on Wednesday night, things, once again, came to a head for San Diego Loyal. After forfeiting a 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy II when a Loyal player was called a racist slur, Landon Donovan’s squad was again met with a decision.

“After halftime, we all decided that if the player who used the homophobic slur was not removed from the game, either through the officials or through their coach, that we were not gonna play, because if they’re not willing to act, then we have to act, we have no choice,” Donovan said in a club statement video.

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This, especially coming from a club that needed this win to qualify for playoffs, is a strong message. It sets a precedent that abuse will not be tolerated under any circumstance by the club, and I wish more clubs thought the same way. If they’re not willing to act, then we have to act.