The latest chapter in the developing story regarding LA Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers accusing Orange County Blues midfielder Richard Chaplow of repeatedly using a homophobic slur in a recent game comes a denial of the charge by Chaplow.
The Englishman, signed by the Blues last month, told The Telegraph on Wednesday:
I have been banned for swearing at a player, not homophobic slurs.
At no point in the statement is a homophobic slur made reference to, and the simple reason for this is it didn't happen.
I swore several times at Rogers for over reacting to a foul, but at no time was the language homophobic and no evidence has been found of this, hence the way the statement has been wrote.
I feel it's important that people realise what the ban is for.
USL suspended Chaplow two games on Wednesday and fined him an undisclosed amount, but as Chaplow mentioned in his comments to The Telegraph, USL’s release on the suspension makes no overt reference to the incident at hand and really doesn’t even explain why a suspension was necessary beyond "offensive and abusive language" being used and referencing a "zero tolerance" policy. The resulting public response was quite negative for USL taking what appeared to be a soft stance on the matter.
It seems odd that Chaplow "merely" swore at Rogers, since one would figure swearing is a common occurrence in soccer games between grown men, and suspensions for that offense alone are not common.
But given the context, it also seems likely Chaplow fought the charge and USL could not find definitive proof via video that he used anti-gay slurs towards Rogers, the only openly gay player in North American male professional soccer at the moment, and who has not previously accused any competitor of using homophobic language since coming out four seasons ago.
Chaplow also brought up a trope that is perhaps unsurprising, saying, "I have a close family member that is openly part of LGBT community so to suggest I'm homophobic is ridiculous and there is no evidence to support this."
So for those hoping for contrition and a swift and big response, Chaplow’s denial means the entire situation now becomes a "he said, he said" story. It also puts additional pressure on the OC Blues in seeing whether they will punish or cut ties with Chaplow themselves, or if they will back the player after he returns from his league suspension.
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