USL Failed First True LGBTQ Respect Test

Robbie Rogers / LA Galaxy

Two matches. TWO. MATCHES. That’s how long Orange County Blues FC player Richard Chaplow is suspended for his homophobic slurs directed at the only openly-gay male athlete in America, Robbie Rogers. For an event that clearly disturbed and upset the LA Galaxy midfielder, the suspension was much too lenient, and the USL sent the wrong message to other gay athletes.

In Europe, matches have been stopped, and teams disqualified for racist behavior, be it from fans, players, or employees. In the United States, however, gay slurs continue to be commonplace in the male sports world. The issues are separate, but not dissimilar.

It’s 2016, society should be unequivocally accepting of each and every human being, regardless or race, gender, sexual identity, and heritage. However, it seems that such discrimination is being tolerated in American minor league soccer.

Two matches is not nearly enough to send a message to any would-be offenders. Two matches may be an afterthought for some of the players who grew up in naive areas that used such language without understanding the consequences of it.

Robbie Rogers  is an incredibly important sports figure. His name deserves to be in the same category as Jackie Robinson, Willie O’Ree, and other athletes who drove their way through nearly impossible barriers, and paved the way for others.

By suspending Chaplow only two matches, the USL missed an opportunity to make the league, and U.S. Soccer, safer for gay athletes. They could have set a precedent, one that would ensure a minimum level of respect and understanding between players. Instead, they went for a slap on the wrist. Shame.

One more question to ponder: would the USL have suspended Chaplow if his comments were directed at a straight player?