The San Diego Loyal walked off the field in protest midway through their USL clash with Phoenix Rising on Wednesday after a Rising player allegedly directed a homophobic slur at openly gay midfielder Collin Martin.
The incident allegedly occurred around the time Martin received a red card with San Diego leading 3-1 in the latter stages of the first half. Multiple Loyal players - who were visibly upset - approached a match official.
Then, while San Diego coach Landon Donovan and Phoenix boss Rick Schantz were discussing the situation with the referee, a Loyal player told Schantz that a Rising player directed a slur toward Martin.
"Don't act dumb. You know what that means," the Loyal player said, according to ESPN.
Donovan and his players then marched down the tunnel at the Torero Stadium in San Diego and returned for the second half to take a knee before walking off again.
The Loyal forfeited a match last week against LA Galaxy II after Omar Ontiveros used the N-word against Elijah Martin. Ontiveros has since been suspended by the USL and cut by L.A.
"Our guys, to their immense credit, just said, 'We're not going to stand for this,'" Donovan said regarding his team's actions Wednesday in a video posted on Twitter. "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 (handily).
"But they said that doesn't matter, there (are) 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 USL has ruled the Loyal's contest against the Rising a forfeit and is investigating the incident.
"We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight's match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC," a statement from the USL read. "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."
Phoenix also released a statement, saying the player accused of using the slur "vehemently denies these allegations," according to ESPN.
The Risings' Junior Flemmings identified himself in a statement as the player accused of using homophobic language toward Martin. Flemming denied the allegations, adding, "I am disappointed by San Diego's actions this evening, as I have been mauled and ridiculed online with no opportunity to defend myself."
Flemmings added: "I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ movement."
Phoenix said that both Flemmings and Schantz will be taking an administrative leave while the USL investigates the matter.