Photo by Dani Vernon/ISIphotos.com
Major League Soccer has sent a strong message that should make players think twice before using controversial language in any forum, whether it be on the field or through social media.
The league suspended Houston Dynamo winger Colin Clark three games, fined him an undisclosed amount and mandated him to attend diversity and sensitivity training for using an anti-gay slur toward a Seattle Sounders ball boy during the clubs' match Friday night. Clark will miss the Dynamo's matches against the Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew and D.C. United, and he'll be eligible to return May 9 against the New York Red Bulls.
The incident occurred directly in front of an NBC Sports Network on-field microphone during the seventh minute of Houston's 2-0 loss to Seattle. The ball boy rolled the ball to Clark instead of tossing it to him, prompting the outburst.
"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 in a league statement. "Colin Clark has expressed sincere remorse for his actions, and I believe that he will learn from this incident."
Clark, who issued an apology on his Twitter account following the match, issued another one in a Dynamo-issued statement.
"I am sorry about what happened during the Seattle match," Clark said. "I have personally apologized to the ball boy, and I want to take this chance to say I’m sorry to everyone that I’ve offended. I intend to never use those words again in any context. There is no excuse for them. What I said does not properly represent who I am or what I believe. I made a mistake that I truly regret. I accept the punishment that has been handed down by MLS, and I want to learn from this incident and move forward.”
The Dynamo also commented on the incident, stating, "Colin Clark made a regrettable and inexcusable mistake for which he is being disciplined. We accept and support the punishment that has been laid out by MLS and look forward to moving beyond it. We know that this incident is not a true representation of Colin’s character or beliefs and that he is remorseful for what happened. He has a strong record of being a community leader and expect that he will use this as a learning and teaching opportunity in the future.”
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