Sebastian Lletget during the Italy v USA International Friendly in 2018 in Belgium. (Pier Marco Tacca/Getty)
Major League Soccer has launched an investigation into LA Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget over a homophobic slur in a video he posted to Instagram.
The 28-year-old, who began his career at West Ham before returning to the US in 2015, admitted he “messed up” in sharing the video on Friday (9 April).
In the clip Lletget approaches his teammate Julian Araujo from behind, slaps him on the neck and calls him by the Spanish slur “puto”, referring to a gay man.
The offensive term has a long history of being sung as a chant by football supporters from Latin American nations. FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, has repeatedly sanctioned the Mexican soccer federation over its fans’ use of the insult.
Araujo also posted the video on his Instagram account, but it has since been removed by both players.
Major League Soccer immediately distanced itself from Lletget and confirmed it would be reviewing his conduct in an internal investigation.
“We have no tolerance for discrimination and prejudice of any kind,” the league said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“We are aware of the use of a homophobic slur by an LA Galaxy player. MLS has begun a formal investigation regarding the language used by the player and more information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.”
In a statement to Outsports, Lletget said he wanted to “address [the] impact” of the video, “not hide from this,” and thanked for the website for holding him accountable.
“I take full responsibility and ownership of what was an extremely poor and ill-thought phrase and have no excuse for my actions,” he wrote.
“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.”
LA Galaxy were early supporters of the LGBT+ community within US football, according to the LA Times. In 2013 the team signed Robbie Rogers, the first professional player in US soccer history to come out as gay, and the team has hosted annual Gay Pride nights at Dignity Health Sports Park.