The USL Championship announced this week that Phoenix Rising FC’s Junior Flemmings has been suspended six games and fined an undisclosed amount for using “foul and abusive language,” specifically a homophobic slur, in a game against San Diego Loyal on Sept. 30.
The news is relevant to Sacramento Republic FC because the suspension will include upcoming playoff games, including Saturday’s clash between Phoenix and Sacramento in Arizona.
Flemmings was accused of using the slur during the first half at San Diego midfielder Collin Martin. Martin, the only openly gay man in American pro sports at the moment, received the support of his team, as San Diego head coach Landon Donovan refused to return to play in the 2nd half after Phoenix head coach Rick Schantz downplayed the accusation and refused to sub off Flemmings at Donovan’s request. The game was officially recorded as a forfeit in Phoenix’s favor because San Diego walked off, which doomed San Diego’s chances of going to the playoffs, a pretty big stand to take on a number of levels.
Flemmings’ absence from the field is not insignificant, as the Jamaican won the Golden Boot as the USL Championship’s top scorer this season.
Meanwhile, Schantz appears to remain on administrative leave by the team, and Phoenix’s GM hinted Wednesday that it could be some time yet before the coach is allowed back to lead the team.
While anything is possible and perhaps Schantz will manage Phoenix Rising Saturday, it sounds more likely that interim head coach Blair Gavin will instead be at the helm for the playoff game. For what it’s worth, Schantz publicly apologized on social media for his conduct around the accusation leveled at Flemmings.
So there you have it. Obviously the Sac Republic angle here isn’t the main story in all of this, but in light of SRFC taking on Phoenix Saturday, here’s the latest at how the fallout from the initial story is impacting Republic FC’s next game.
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