Footballer Santiago Sosa suspended and fined for homophobic slur during game

Santiago Sosa

Atlanta United footballer Santiago Sosa has been suspended and fined for using a homophobic slur during a game. 

Midfielder Sosa has been banned from playing for three matches after using an anti-gay term in his team’s match against the New England Revolution on 1 October. 

The 23-year-old is also required to pay an undisclosed fine and will need to attend LGBTQ+ allyship training through Athlete Ally, the Washington Examiner reported. 

A spokesperson for Atlanta United said the club is aware of Sosa’s use of “offensive language”, and stated it does not “condone the use of harmful or disrespectful language towards any person”.

“Santiago is extremely remorseful and personally apologized to the New England Revolution player. He has also requested additional resources from Major League Soccer’s Players Association to grow from this incident.

“The club will ensure this moment serves as an opportunity to reaffirm Atlanta United’s deeply held values of inclusion, respect and unity to all of our players and staff.”

Following the incident Santiago Sosa will miss Atlanta’s final game of Major League Soccer regular season at home to New York City FC on Sunday (16 October), plus the first two games of the 2023 season.

Football and homophobic abuse

The news comes as former Spain and Real Madrid goalkeeper Carles Puyol apologised after a fake coming out stunt resulted in huge backlash online.

Retired Spain and Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas immediately made headlines when he tweeted: “I hope you respect me: I’m gay” on Sunday (9 October). 

Puyol joined in, adding: “It’s time to tell our story, Iker” – resulting in criticism for making being gay a punchline, once again, in football, where homophobic abuse continues to be a huge problem.

Both Josh Cavallo and Zander Murray – who have both come out in the sport – commented on what the Madrid pair said online, and their own experiences of homophobic abuse in the game.

“To see my role models and legends of the game make fun out of coming out and my community is beyond disrespectful,” Cavallo wrote.