Reggae Boyz forward Junior Flemmings has signed a one-year deal with Birmingham Legion FC in the United Soccer League in the United States.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has expressed hope that the suspension of national footballer Junior Flemmings by the USL Championship, for the use of derogatory language, serves as a ‘teachable moment' to all players.

Flemmings, a Phoenix Academy player, was suspended for six games and fined an undisclosed sum following an investigation into allegations that he used “foul and abusive language” against a San Diego Loyal player last week.  At the start of the second half, Loyal players and staff - including their manager, United States icon Landon Donovan - returned only to take a knee before walking off the pitch.

The player, who is currently on administrative leave, could also face further punishment by the club.  The JFF, in a letter released on Thursday, expressed solidarity with the USL’s decision and disappointment with Flemmings.

 “The JFF would like to make it clear that we abhor foul, abusive, or discriminatory language. We are indeed disappointed, and we impress upon our players both locally and internationally, to be mindful of their expressions within and without a game,” the letter stated.

“Every player should use this incident as a teachable moment while they maintain professionalism even under pressure or provocation,” it added.

“We truly hope that Flemmings will quickly pick up the pieces and maintain the great scoring form if and when he is called to the National team.”

The suspension means that Flemmings will miss all of the 2020 USL Championships playoffs. He had scored 14 goals in 14 matches for the Phoenix Rising.  The 24-year old has made 10 appearances for the Jamaica national team.


Junior Flemmings of Phoenix Rising has been banned for six matches for a homophobic insult aimed at San Diego Loyal's Collin Martin.

The Jamaican was found to have directed "foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur" at Martin, who is the only openly gay player in football in the United States.

The incident in last Wednesday's USL Championship match prompted San Diego to walk off the pitch in protest. The referee had mistakenly sent Martin off, apparently thinking he was the abuser as he reported Flemming's comments to the officials.

A heated discussion between head coach Landon Donovan, opposite number Rick Schantz and the referee followed. San Diego returned to the pitch after half-time but only to take a knee before walking off again.

Flemmings issued a statement on social media denying the abuse, but Rising placed him on administrative leave last Thursday while the USL conducted an investigation into the incident.

The USL Championship is one tier below Major League Soccer in the United States.

On Tuesday, the league confirmed the punishment: stating: "The USL Championship announced on Tuesday, following an investigation that included interviews with 11 individuals, including players, coaches and match officials, that it has issued a six-game suspension and undisclosed fine to Phoenix Rising FC's Junior Flemmings for the use of foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur during the club's match against San Diego Loyal SC on September 30.

"Per the player's contract, Flemmings could also be subject to additional discipline from Phoenix Rising FC and remains on administrative leave.

"Flemmings' suspension covers the entirety of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs."

Phoenix Rising midfielder Junior Flemmings has been suspended for six games and fined an undisclosed sum following an investigation into allegations that he used “foul and abusive language” against a San Diego Loyal player on September 30.

In addition, according to reports the Jamaican could face additional sanctions from his club.

The suspension means that Flemmings will miss all of the 2020 USL Championships playoffs. He had scored 14 goals in 14 matches for the Phoenix Rising.

The USL said 11 persons were interviewed during the investigation. They included coaches, players and match officials.

Flemmings was accused by San Diego Loyals player Collin Martin, who is gay during a match on Wednesday, September 30. His actions prompted the Loyals players to abandon the match during the first half even though they were leading 3-1. Flemmings had characterized the allegations as being untrue.

The club subsequently sent the player on administrative leave while the league conducted an investigation into the allegations.




In Jamaica football culture, from scrimmage level to professional, it’s quite common to hear players blurt out homophobic slurs in colourful shades of the local dialect, whether with rising anger or in jest.

So, it was not at all surprising to see the reactions when The Gleaner recently posted the story on United Soccer League’s (USL) Phoenix Rising player, Junior Flemmings, who was accused of hurling a Jamaican homophobic slur towards an openly gay San Diego Loyal player.  A lot of the reactions were empathetic. In fact, a good deal of the comments section on their Instagram page read like this:

“Oh dear. It’s a Jamaican [thing]. No hurt [feelings] meant.”

“It's the norm. Don’t chastise him. For Jamaicans, everybody [is] a ‘b***y b*y’.”

“It [is] not [that] serious.”

Respondents seemed very understanding, even though Flemmings denied the allegations.  For many of us, after all, shouting homophobic slurs during football games just isn’t a big deal, in fact, it’s the norm.  No harm was done, right?  Wrong, just because something is the norm that doesn't make it right, nor should it be set in stone. Norms can change over time.  And, in cases like this, a lot of those changes will facilitate the growth of a society.

EJ, the Communication and Campaign Strategist, at J-Flag, pointed out that the incident is an opportunity to remind people about why the use of homophobic slurs should be re-evaluated.

 “Whether it is said in the public domain or in private spaces, or around close friends and family, slurs reinforce the negative views of LGBT identities,” he reflected.

 “Slurs often bring the community back to sites of hurtful mental and emotional trauma. While some use the excuse that it is not being directed at any [particular] person who is out [as] lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBT), slurs reinforce the idea that LGBT identities are so ‘dirty’ that they can be used to cause verbal harm to ‘straight’ men.”

In addition to maintaining negative stereotypes associated with the LGBT community, EJ is concerned that reinforcing the notion that Jamaica is ‘the most homophobic place on earth’ could also be harmful.  He recommends being more aware of the consequences homophobic remarks can have on the country.

“If we’re serious about removing that stigma from our name and the damage that it causes to brand Jamaica, we have to be more mindful of our language and conscious of the harm it may cause.”

Flemmings’ recent statement that was posted to his personal Twitter page ended with, “I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ movement.”   Who knows, maybe his public support for the community will motivate others to consider the feeling of the LGBT community and the consequences of their actions, on and off the field, in the future.


Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

United Soccer League team, the Phoenix Rising has put midfielder Junior Flemmings on administrative leave as an investigation proceeds into allegations that he used a homophobic term against an opposing player during his team’s game against the San Diego Loyal on Wednesday night.

Phoenix Rising has released statement on social media indicating that the Jamaican was sent on leave so that he may fully focus on cooperating with the investigation.

Depending on what the investigation reveals, the Reggae Boyz player could find himself being without a job as the club have made their policy clear.

"Phoenix Rising FC is actively anti-homophobia and anti-racist and has a zero-tolerance policy for actions which run contrary to these core values," the club said in its statement.

During the game on Wednesday, San Diego Loyal midfielder Collin Martin accused Flemmings of hurling an homophobic slur at him. The accusation resulted Loyal players walking off the field in protest even though they were leading 3-1.

Flemmings, who has scored 14 goals in 14 matches for the Phoenix Rising, has denied the accusations.

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