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USL’s handling of homophobic abuse is completely unacceptable

Robbie Rogers’ abuser gets off extremely light

MLS: Sporting KC at LA Galaxy Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend, American soccer’s first openly gay male player, Robbie Rogers, while rehabbing with the LA Galaxy reserves in the USL, accused an opponent of abusing him verbally because of his sexual orientation. He stated that it was the first time he’d ever been treated that way on a soccer field since coming out of the closet four years ago.

via Facebook

“In the heat of the last fifteen minutes of the game a player from the opposing team called me a "queer" repeatedly. To be honest my initial reaction was one of shock. This is my fourth season back in the MLS and I've yet to hear another player use that or any other gay slur during a game. I quickly became enraged, I spent the drive home wishing I had channeled my inner Zidane and punched or head-butted this player even though I knew punching this person wouldn't have helped either of us, my team, or the greater cause of advancing equality in sports.”

This is a near and dear issue to him and we can’t help but take him at his word that everything he says happened, did in fact happen. He just wouldn’t lie about something like that.

On Wednesday, the USL responded by suspending Orange County Blues player Richard Chaplow for two games and fining him.

That’s just simply not good enough. Two games for homophobic abuse in today’s world is a slap in the face to anyone fighting for equality in the sporting environment and the world as a whole.

Robbie Rogers is the face of the movement is men’s soccer for homosexual athletes to be able to feel free to live their lives out in the open without fear of prejudice. It took massive amounts of courage for him to publicly come out and then to return to pro soccer.

Thankfully, this is the first recorded incident of such abuse and according to Rogers, it’s the first time overall that it’s actually happened to him. While that’s certainly a good thing on the surface, the USL’s punishment has severely hurt that progress the American soccer community has made in accepting homosexual athletes.

This was their chance to send a clear message to the country that this type of abuse will not be tolerated. Instead, they’ve barely slapped Mr. Chaplow on the wrist. We can only hope that his club will take a far more strict stand with their punishment.

Back in 2012, MLS suspended Marc Burch for three games for using a homophobic slur during a game. This was just for getting caught saying the word on TV, not even aimed at anyone in particular, much less someone who is actually homosexual.

In that context alone, the USL’s sentence is light. Then you take into account that this abuse was actually aimed at an openly gay player and it becomes so much worse. I’m not about suggest what an appropriate punishment would be. However, he’d be lucky to keep his job if it were in any other business ran by people who care about other people.

Being a member of the American soccer community, I’ve been proud of the way we’ve accepted Robbie Rogers. It’s been nothing but positive reactions and support, just like it should be. Then, this guy comes along and spits in Robbie’s and everyone else’s face by pulling this idiotic move.

I’m begging the USL to reconsider their punishment. This sort of thing absolutely cannot happen in this day and age. It’s ridiculous that it was at one time acceptable or just ignored in the past, but we’re in a new age of equality and acceptance. USL’s handing of this situation sets a really bad precedent. A message needs to be sent and that message needs to be that there’s absolutely no place in our sport for ignorant behavior like this.