USL team San Diego Loyal walked off the field halfway through their match against rivals Phoenix Rising after their openly-gay midfielder Collin Martin was the victim of an alleged homophobic slur by a Phoenix player.

Loyal, who were chasing a playoff place, were leading the match 3-1 when the incident occurred at the end of the first half. After heated words were exchanged between the two teams’ managers, the teams went into the locker rooms for halftime.

After the break, San Diego returned to the field, then took a knee before leaving the pitch.

It is the second time in two weeks that the team has protested discriminatory behavior by opposition players. Last week, their player Elijah Martin was the victim of a racial slur by LA Galaxy II player Omar Ontiveros, who was subsequently suspended by the league, then released by the club.

Recapping a turbulent week for the team, Loyal manager, former US National Team star Landon Donovan explained, “We went through a really hard incident last week and we made a vow to ourselves, to our community, to our players, to the club, to USL that we would not stand for bigotry, homophobic slurs, things that don’t belong in our game.

Landon Donovan on why the team decided to forfeit tonight’s match against Phoenix Rising FC.

“Last week our one regret was we should have done something in the moment when Elijah was racially abused. That was our regret. I wish we had done something.

“…Our guys, to their credit, said we were not going to stand for this. They were 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.”

Martin posted on Twitter that Rising’s Junior Flemmings had directed the homophobic slur at him.

“During the stoppage time in play, I tried telling the ref that a gay slur had been directed towards me. However, he got confused and thought I called him gay – hence why I was mistakenly given a red card thereafter,” he said.

“Once that it was cleared up with the ref… Flemmings came over and told me that he knew of my ‘situation’ (I’m an out gay man) and that he didn’t call me a slur… he was backtracking and attempting to deny what he said.

“Why would he say that slur to me if he knew I was gay?”

“I felt personally attacked.”Collin Martin opens up about the events from last night’s match.

Flemmings has denied any wrongdoing, and said the accusations made by Martin were false.

“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,” Flemmings said on Twitter.

“I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ movement.”

The USL, has confirmed that it is aware of the incident and is investigating the situation.