Watch Landon Donovan's Team Walk off Field after Alleged Homophobic Slur Hurled at Gay Player

USL Championship side San Diego Loyal forfeited their game against Phoenix Rising on Wednesday night after one of their players was allegedly the target of a homophobic slur.

Collin Martin, the only openly gay professional soccer player in the U.S., complained Rising midfielder Junior Flemmings had allegedly aimed a homophobic insult at him during the first half of the game at Torero Stadium in San Diego, California.

Martin's complaint prompted coach Landon Donovan to ask the referee and Phoenix head coach Rick Schantz to withdraw Flemmings from the game at halftime.

When both declined, Donovan, the joint all-time goalscorer and the most capped player in the history of the U.S. men's national team, took matters into his own hands. The former L.A. Galaxy star instructed his players to return to the field for the second half, only to take a knee and subsequently walk off, thereby forfeiting the game.

The @SanDiegoLoyal took a knee as the second half kicked off, then walked off the field in support of their teammate, Collin Martin, who was called a homophobic slur.

Here is that moment: pic.twitter.com/2uWbPGq6h4

— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) October 1, 2020

"Our guys, to their immense credit, just said, 'We're not going to stand for this,'" Donovan said in a video posted on Loyal's official Twitter account.

"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. But they said that doesn't matter, there's things more important in life and we have to stick up for what we believe in. And so they made the decision to walk off."

The incident occurred shortly after Martin was sent off with his team leading 3-1. As he was shown the red card, several of his teammates were visibly upset as they surrounded the referee.

Donovan and Schantz were discussing the incident on the sideline, when a San Diego player approached the latter and explained a homophobic slur had been aimed at Martin.

"Don't act dumb," the player said. "You know what that means."

The Rising said it was investigating the incident and that Flemmings refuted the accusation.

"Phoenix Rising stands with the USL in rejecting and punishing any homophobic behavior," the Rising said in its statement.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Flemmings insisted the claim was false and that the referee had admitted not hearing the alleged slur himself.

"This evening in our match against the San Diego Loyal I was accused of making a homophobic slur towards a San Diego Loyal player," he wrote.

"This accusation is false and my fellow team-mates will support my claim. [...] 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.

"I am disappointed by San Diego's actions this evening as I have been mauled and ridiculed online with no opportunity to defend myself. This is my statement. I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ movement."

The USL Championship confirmed it had been made aware of the incident and was investigating it.

"We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight's match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC," the league said in a statement.

"Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches. An investigation is currently underway to determine the facts surrounding the incident and more information will be provided as soon as it is available."

Collin Martin, MLS
[File photo] Collin Martin #17 of Minnesota United FC runs with the ball against the Montreal Impact during the MLS game at Saputo Stadium on July 6, 2019 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Martin, the only openly gay soccer player in the U.S., now plays for San Diego Loyal. Minas Panagiotakis/Getty