Sunday 11 December 2016

Richard Chaplow denies homophobic abuse of LA Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers

Bob Williams

Published 25/08/2016 | 08:15

Controversy: Robbie Rogers, the openly gay LA Galaxy defender, was the victim of homophobic abuse Credit: Getty Images
Controversy: Robbie Rogers, the openly gay LA Galaxy defender, was the victim of homophobic abuse Credit: Getty Images

Richard Chaplow, the former Burnley, West Brom and Southampton midfielder, has been banned for two matches in the United States for verbal abuse of openly gay LA Galaxy defender Robbie Rogers.

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However, Chaplow has vigorously denied that any of his language was homophobic. Furthermore, the USL made no finding that he had used any homophobic language.

The incident took place during last Saturday's match between the Orange County Blues - Chaplow's club - and the LA Galaxy reserve team in the third tier United Soccer League.

After the match Rogers released a post on social media that he was repeatedly called a "queer" by an opposing player, sparking huge controversy and widespread support for the former US international.

On Wednesday, the USL announced in a statement that they had suspended Chaplow for two matches and fined him for "offensive and abusive language directed at another player during his team’s game against the LA Galaxy II on Aug 20".

 “The USL has zero tolerance for this type of behaviour,” said Jake Edwards, the USL president. “We cannot, nor will we, condone any language that is counter to the values we have instilled throughout the USL.”

Video footage of the match reveals a heated argument between Chaplow and Rogers in the 82nd minute.

Rogers said afterwards: "In the heat of the last 15 minutes of the game a player from the opposing team called me a 'queer' repeatedly. To be honest my initial reaction was one of shock. This is my fourth season back in the MLS and I've yet to hear another player use that or any other gay slur during a game.

"I quickly became enraged, I spent the drive home wishing I had channeled my inner Zidane and punched or head-butted this player even though I knew punching this person wouldn't have helped either of us, my team, or the greater cause of advancing equality in sports.

"I went to bed upset last night. Angry at this player and and his ignorance. Angry at myself for not doing more in the moment. Sad the we still live in a time where this kind of intolerance still exists in my sport and elsewhere.

"And if I'm being honest, I was even a bit ashamed that a single word could make me feel, even just for a moment, all the awful feelings I felt for so many years: small, less than, wrong, and unworthy of love and respect by my family or god forbid by my team-mates."

After Rogers' claims, the OC Blues  said in a statement that they will launch their own investigation into the matter.

Chaplow, 31, joined the OC Blues this year after a long career in England. The Accrington-born player is a former England Under-21 international.

Chaplow has denied accusations that he is homophobic and told The Telegraph: "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.

"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."

OC Blues head coach Barry Venison told The Telegraph: "I am delighted that Richard has been found 100 per cent innocent of the false accusations of him directing homophobic language towards an opponent.

"The fact is, Richard is being punished for swearing at an opponent and I'm disappointed at the severity of the punishment for "offensive and abusive language directed at another player".

"I encourage all news outlets, reporters and responsible human beings to read the USL statement and report what it actually says and not what they would like it to say. "

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