When the San Diego Loyal Soccer Club hosts Phoenix Rising Wednesday night, it will be the Loyal’s first game since forfeiting a point in protest of an opposing player’s racial slur.
During the 71st minute of last Wednesday’s match, Los Angeles Galaxy II player Omar Ontiveros directed the slur at San Diego midfielder Elijah Martin. The incident happened near multiple referees, the Galaxy II coaching staff and players, but no action was taken.
“There is no place in the sports for racism,” Rising coach Rick Schantz said. “There’s no place anywhere in the world for racism.”
Loyal coaches were unaware of the situation until after the game. If they had heard about it earlier, the team made it clear they would have walked off the field for no action being taken by the referees.
“If there is anything we have learned during the last few months with all the racial injustice matters that have occurred, we have to take action that have consequences when these matters occur,” Loyal President Warren Smith said in a statement. “I am proud of this organization, its ownership, staff and especially our players for wanting to take such action.”
The Rising has offered support for the Loyal football club and Schantz believes that if such an incident occurred at a Rising match his team would have responded.
“For me as a coach, in my mind, with my players, an immediate reaction would have been more warranted,”Schantz said. “If that ever happened to us, I would expect our players to support and defend each other.”
The Rising showed their support to the San Diego club on Twitter, saying, “Racism has no place in the game and we wish you hadn’t been put in this position.”
Racism has no place in the game and we wish you hadn’t been put in this position
— x-Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) September 26, 2020
The game versus Los Angeles ended in a 1-1 draw.
“We don’t even want to recognize being a part of a match where these types of actions take place,” said Loyal Chairman Andrew Vassiliadis in a team statement on social media. “The Loyal in our name is symbolic of the diversity in our community and as a club we will not stand for this.”
On Friday, USL Championship announced that Ontiveros would receive a six-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for the incident. Since then, LA Galaxy II has released Ontiveros and stated that the club will have no tolerance for such behavior.
“LA Galaxy II stands with communities of color, and especially the Black community, in the fight against systemic racism, social inequality, bigotry and violence,” a statement from the team read.”Our club has no tolerance for racism or bigotry of any kind.”
The Rising has done various gestures in the past to show their unity against social injustice and racism, such as wearing pregame warmup shirts that say, “United Against Racism.”
The team also has released statements in the past about the fight for social justice and how it feels that society as a whole needs change.
— x-Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) August 30, 2020
The Rising head into the final two games needing one win to clinch first place. They will host Los Angeles Galaxy II on Saturday.