MLS suspends Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget for homophobic slur

The Galaxy's Sebastian Lletget follows through on a kick
The Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget follows through on a kick against the Portland Timbers on July 13 in Florida.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget has been suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed amount for using an anti-gay slur in an Instagram post two weeks ago. MLS will also require Lletget to attend diversity, equity and inclusion training.

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. Araujo also posted and removed the video.

Lletget, who was second on the team in goals and assists last season, cooperated with the investigation, according to the league. He has also taken responsibility for his actions and repeatedly apologized, once breaking down on a conference call with national reporters when the subject came up.


Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget apologized for using a homophobic slur popular at Mexican national team games in a video posted on Instagram.

“I take full responsibility and ownership on what was an extremely poor and ill-thought phrase and have no excuse for my actions,” he said in a statement. “I am sorry and know the pain that this term has caused for so many.”

The league said it has a “zero-tolerance policy” regarding racist or homophobic language and conduct.

However, the timing and length of Lletget’s suspension raises questions of their own. In past cases of players using anti-gay slurs, MLS handed out three-game suspensions and fines to Alan Gordon, Marc Burch and Colin Clark within four days of their actions. All three players used their epithets during games.

In Lletget’s case, the league waited two weeks before announcing a suspension, allowing Lletget, who also plays for the U.S. national team, to participate in the team’s much-hyped season-opening win over Inter Miami last week.

That game was broadcast on network TV, drawing record ratings for an MLS opener on ABC, and Lletget’s girlfriend, pop star Becky G, performed the national anthem before kickoff.

The suspension announced Friday means Lletget will miss Sunday’s home game with the New York Red Bulls and next week’s match in Seattle, both of which be shown on cable TV. He will return in time for the Galaxy’s next network game, against LAFC on Fox.

One reason for the delay in announcing the suspension may have been the MLS appeals process, which allows the team, Lletget and the league’s players association to question the penalty. But Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said Friday he wasn’t officially told Lletget was being suspended until late in the week and was unaware of any appeal.

“At the end of the day they made their decision. We respect their decision,” he said. “I haven’t heard anything different.”

Vanney said the decision on who replaces Lletget will be dictated by the game.

“How we adjust is really kind of a little bit dependent on the opponent,” he said. “We will adjust according to what we think is going to give us the best opportunity against the way the Red Bulls play. That may not be the same solution a week from now. We’ll kind of play that by ear.”