It remains to be seen what more will come out of the promised investigations surrounding LA Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers’ report that he experienced repeated homophobic abuse from an Orange County Blues player while on loan to the LA Galaxy II, but with the news from USL on Wednesday that Blues midfielder Richard Chaplow is the player in question and has been suspended two games for his actions, the initial response to the league suspension has been rather negative.
Perhaps one of the most articulate responses, unsurprisingly, comes from a fellow USL player, Harrisburg City Islanders midfielder Bobby Warshaw, who has written extensively about playing soccer professionally and is outspoken on many topics regarding the sport.
Wait, intentional discrimination gets less severe punishment than an accidental tackle can get? Are we serious here? https://t.co/SMLF1dgkmx— Bobby Warshaw (@bwarshaw14) August 24, 2016
Yo, USL declared that hate speech is the same as sliding in late on a tackle and we're all pretending it's okay.— Bobby Warshaw (@bwarshaw14) August 24, 2016
The two-game ban seems to be rather light, especially in context of USL’s partner MLS and their previous precedent of three games for multiple incidents regarding homophobic speech being uttered during a game.
Count me among those surprised it wasn't 3 games for slur directed at Robbie Rogers. That is the standard in MLS. https://t.co/GycEhZ4EYw— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) August 24, 2016
USL suspends Richard Chaplow 2 games for anti-gay slurs on field at Robbie Rogers. Not nearly severe enough, USL. https://t.co/CI0n8eoqHJ— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) August 24, 2016
Two games is nowhere near enough. USL deserves to catch hell for this.https://t.co/Na4zWbP7Bf— Matthew Doyle (@MLSAnalyst) August 24, 2016
The Gay 4 Soccer Twitter account, which has long been an advocate for gay voices in the sport, also made several good points in the aftermath of the suspension.
Nowhere at all does the @USL release mention homophobia or homophobic language. This wasn't being mean. It was a hateful slur.— gay4soccer (@gay4soccer) August 24, 2016
This is such a new situation. I don't know what else is needed. This isn't a throwaway slur. It's homophobia targeted at a gay player.— gay4soccer (@gay4soccer) August 24, 2016
All three players suspended in MLS were contrite, made amends. Not sure at all if we'll see that here.— gay4soccer (@gay4soccer) August 24, 2016
Thinking about this, there needs to be a player statement period. I'm assuming there will be one and the OC staff is swamped with game day.— gay4soccer (@gay4soccer) August 24, 2016
And SB Nation’s U.S. National Team site Stars and Stripes FC issued a firm condemnation of USL’s punishment:
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.
The ball appears to now be in the Orange County Blues’ court regarding further action. Clearly, no matter what is or isn’t meted on this matter to Chaplow, there will be people unsatisfied with the punishment, but two games suspension by the league clearly seems to be not good enough for many who play, watch and write about the sport.
But will the Blues take further measures, or will they attempt to sweep the issue under the rug once Chaplow’s suspension is served? Many eyes will be on the organization in the next few weeks, and it’s a big chance for the team, which gets very little attention in American soccer locally and nationally, to make a statement that truly promotes inclusivity and fully condemns unacceptable conduct on the field.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!