Whoever says that "the wheels of justice grind slow", doesn't know MLS Commissioner Don Garber. The head of Major League Soccer announced on Tuesday that San Jose Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon would be suspended an additional 3 games due to saying an anti-gay slur to Portland Timbers' midfielder Will Johnson during Sunday evenings game.
Once Gordon said it, the Rose City player held up three fingers to tell the Quakes front man that his fate was now sealed. Johnson knew full well the punishment for saying the ugly epithet because on November 9, 2012 Seattle Sounders defender Marc Burch used the same slur on him when he was playing for Real Salt Lake in the second leg of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Right after saying the remark, the defender quickly penned his regret:
"I apologize for my horrific choice of words last night during our match. This is something that is inconsistent with my family values and because of that I am both disappointed and embarrassed by my level of poor judgment. I take seriously my role as a leader in the community and this is completely regrettable and unacceptable. Character matters and I hope through hard work on and off the field to begin earning your respect and trust again."http://www.sbnation.com/admin/entries/new?community_id=355&entry_type=Article
On February 12, 2013 in an interview with Tim Booth, Burch opened up for the first time saying:
"I think it will always be on the back of my mind. You make a mistake and you want to fix it as much as you can. That’s what I’ve tried to do. It’s the only thing I can do," said Burch. "I can’t make up for what I did. All I can do is just prove from here on out that nothing like that is ever going to happen again. That’s not who I am. That’s not what I do. That’s not part of my game. That’s not part of this team’s game. I made a mistake and since then I think I’m doing the right things. That’s the only thing I can do from here on out."
However, Seattle's Burch wasn't the first MLS man to get a three game suspension for saying the FF-bomb, that 'honor' would be for Houston Dynamo's Colin Clark saying it to a ball boy while, ironically, playing the Sounders on March 23, 2012. The Dynamo Midfielder quickly tweeted out the following:
I'd like to offer a sincere apology to everyone who watched the game, especially the ball boy for whom I used awful language towards.
I didn't mean to disrespect anyone and am sorry for letting my emotions get the best of me. It's not who I am and it won't happen again.
And told reporter, Marcus Kwesi O'Mard:
"I am sorry about what happened during the Seattle match," Clark said. "I have personally apologized to the ball boy, and I want to take this chance to say I'm sorry to everyone that I've offended. I intend to never use those words again in any context. There is no excuse for them. What I said does not properly represent who I am or what I believe. I made a mistake that I truly regret. I accept the punishment that has been handed down by MLS, and I want to learn from this incident and move forward."
So, how does Alan Gordon get over this? He's already taken the first few steps with issuing an apology within 90 minutes of the match. Now he gets to sit out four weeks (against Portland, Chivas USA, Montreal, and Toronto), pay an undisclosed fine to the league (which will go to the MLS Works fund), and attend more diversity and sensitivity trainings.
Gordon sat down on Tuesday with Elliot Almond of the San Jose Mercury News and started the conversation with:
"I'm the furthest thing from being homophobic. That's why it hurt. I can honestly appreciate the sensitively of the word if I put myself in other people's shoes. That has not come out of my mouth since high school. It's not language I use. It's despicable."
All the world will now wait and see how this affects the entire San Jose Earthquakes organization (the Quakes President David Kaval came out with his own statement on Monday) and the rest of the league. As Don Garber reiterated that, “Major League Soccer stands against discrimination and prejudice of any kind and will not tolerate this type of behavior. All of our players, staff and fans must remain committed to respect and dignity at all times.”
Next time Quakes fans could see Gordon back on the pitch, it will be full circle... back in Seattle.