Dynamo midfielder Colin Clark has been fined and suspended for aiming a gay slur at a ball boy.
Major League Soccer officials announced this week that Clark would face a three-match suspension, a fine of an undisclosed amount, and sensitivity training.
Said MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement Wednesday:
“Major League Soccer will not tolerate this type of behavior from its players or staff at any time, under any circumstances. Colin Clark has expressed sincere remorse for his actions and I believe that he will learn from this incident.”
Clark made the slur during his team’s game against Seattle on March 24.
He was caught by pitch microphones shouting at a ball boy and calling him a “faggot.” The slur was audible on the NBC Sports Network broadcast.
Clark has since apologized for the remarks, and is quoted as saying:
“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.”
” 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.”
Clark’s team also issued the following statement:
“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.”
Although Clark is believed to be the first player to be suspended in the major American sports league over a gay slur, he isn’t the first Houston pro athlete to be disciplined for using anti-gay language.
Last month saw the NHL’s Aeros forward Justin Fontaine suspended for two games for a hateful slur on Twitter.
MLS officials have been praised for their swift action, though critics point out that reports say Clark has been suspended with pay and therefore whatever he is fined will, at least partially, be absorbed by the money he is still earning while not on the pitch.