Houston Dynamo midfielder Colin Clark has been suspended for three games and fined an undisclosed amount for using offensive language towards a ball boy during last Friday’s nationally televised game in Seattle, Major League Soccer announced on Tuesday.
Commissioner Garber also mandated that Clark attend diversity and sensitivity training. This is in addition to the training that all MLS clubs attend at the beginning of each season.
“Major League Soccer will not tolerate this type of behavior from its players or staff at any time, under any circumstances,” Garber said in a statement. “Colin Clark has expressed sincere remorse for his actions and I believe that he will learn from this incident.”
In the seventh minute of the Dynamo's 2-0 loss to the Sounders, field-side broadcast microphones picked up Clark using a homophobic slur toward a ball boy after he wasn't issued a new ball as quickly as he wanted on a throw-in situation. Clark is seen and heard on video picking up the ball, directing his comments toward the ball boy, and then throwing the ball back into play.
“I am sorry about what happened during the Seattle match,” Clark said in a statement. “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.”
Clark is in his third season with the Dynamo, and eighth in the league overall. He's started all three games for the club this season.
"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," Clark posted on his Twitter account at 3 am ET on Saturday morning.
"I didn't mean to disrespect anyone and am sorry for letting my emotions get the best of me," Clark wrote in his next post. "It's not who I am and it won't happen again."
The Dynamo also released an official statement about the suspension.
“Colin Clark made a regrettable and inexcusable mistake for which he is being disciplined. We accept and support the punishment that has been laid out by MLS and look forward to moving beyond it," the club said. "We know that this incident is not a true representation of Colin’s character or beliefs and that he is remorseful for what happened. He has a strong record of being a community leader and expect that he will use this as a learning and teaching opportunity in the future.”