Dynamo midfielder Colin Clark became the first Major League Soccer player suspended for using a gay slur Wednesday.
Clark screamed the slur at a ball boy March 23 after he refused to toss him the ball at a game in Seattle. He was suspended for three games with pay and fined an undisclosed amount.
He is the second MLS player reprimanded for using a gay slur. Vancouver Whitecaps player Lee Nguyen was formally warned six weeks ago after he called teammate Brad Nighton a shortened version of the word on Twitter.
But Clark is believed to be the first player a major American sports league has suspended for using a gay slur, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Although Clark has said he accepts the punishment and wants to move forward, the interesting thing is what the MLS will do now.
The NBA aired public service announcements to stop gay slurs last year after Kobe Bryant and later Joakim Noah both recived fines for using slurs.
But the MLS has not taken action to stop the Spanish gay slur that fans traditionally shout from the stands when the opposing goalkeeper takes a goal kick. In fact, the Chronicle reports that the tradition, which originated in Mexico and is common in MLS stadiums, has been embraced by Dynamo fans. The Chronicle reports:
“Major League Soccer will not tolerate this type of behavior from its players or staff at any time, under any circumstances,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “Colin Clark has expressed sincere remorse for his actions, and I believe that he will learn from this incident.”
Clark, who must also attend sensitivity and diversity training as part of his punishment, apologized for his comments Saturday via his Twitter account and again Wednesday.
“First of all, I want to apologize for what I did during the Seattle match,” he said. “I had a chance to speak to the ball boy after the game. I’m sorry to everyone who I offended with that term. I intend to never use that word again in any context. There’s absolutely no excuse for using that word.
“What I said doesn’t represent me. It was out of character and out of line. I made a huge mistake by using those words, and I truly regret that.”
“With what the league has handed down,” Clark said, “I accept the punishment from the league and intend to turn this negative into a positive, and I look forward to moving beyond this incident.”