On Friday, Major League Soccer announced it had fined Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget an undisclosed amount, and suspended him for two matches, for posting a video of himself using an anti-gay slur in an Instagram story earlier this month.
The Los Angeles Times reports, “The suspension follows a league investigation into the incident, which began after Lletget posted, then took down, a video that showed him sneaking up behind teammate Julian Araujo after practice and using the epithet, apparently as a prank.” According to the Times, “Araujo also posted and removed the video.”
Lletget, who has also been part of the U.S. men’s national team since 2017, reportedly called Araujo “puto,” which some people say is an anti-gay slur in Spanish.
“I take full responsibility and ownership on what was an extremely poor and ill-thought phrase and have no excuse for my actions,” Lletget said. “I am sorry and know the pain that this term has caused for so many.”
He will serve the suspension during the Galaxy’s next two regular-season games versus the New York Red Bulls on Sunday and against the Seattle Sounders FC on May 2. He was allowed to play in the Galaxy’s season-opening win over Inter Miami last week, which was broadcast on national television and reportedly drew record ratings for an MLS opener on ABC. Pop star Becky G, who is Lletget’s girlfriend, sang the national anthem before the game.
MLS says it has a zero-tolerance policy for racist or homophobic language.
Lletget has repeatedly expressed remorse for making the comment and sharing the video with approximately 689,000 Instagram followers.
His remark was first reported on April 9 by Outsports, an online outlet owned by Vox Media that has described itself as “the world’s most-read LGBT sports publication.” According to Outsports, Lletget could be heard saying, “Eeeeeeehhhh puto!” as a caption on the video read: “Unlucky brooooooo.”
As Outsports reported at the time:
Within minutes of Outsports contacting spokespeople for the Galaxy and USMNT, seeking comment, Lletget deleted the video. Less than two hours later, Lletget reached out to our Cyd Zeigler, telling him by phone he wanted to apologize for his actions and take full responsibility.
Powerful message from @MLS to its players: There will be zero tolerance of gay slurs in the league.
I’d previously suggested the league is moving in a different direction. I was wrong.
— Cyd Zeigler (@CydZeigler) April 23, 2021
Lletget went on to issue a statement to Outsports, which read in part:
I messed up. Earlier today, I posted a video that included me using a derogatory slur in Spanish.
I have taken down a video from my Instagram story but want to address its impact and not hide from this…
I want to be part of the solution — not part of the problem — and continue to be an advocate and an ally for the LGBTQ+ community. Those who know me know my character and heart. I will remain outspoken in my support and advocacy. My error doesn’t change that.
Thanks for your accountability. I need to do and be better.
MLS said in a statement that the league “acknowledges and appreciates Lletget’s prompt apology and the accountability he has taken for his actions.”
“I said a word that shouldn’t have been said,” Lletget said earlier this month. “And although there’s been a lot of discussion and debate about the meaning of the word because of different dialects in Spanish and cultures, the truth is it’s a harmful word and it shouldn’t have been said.”
“I’m a human, I made a mistake and that’s simply what happened. But now I want to rectify it.”
MLS will also require Lletget to attend diversity, equity, and inclusion training.
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