San Diego Loyal’s decision to forfeit a match over alleged homophobic abuse has “taken the genie out of the bottle”, says Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari.
Bhandari said the actions of Loyal manager Donovan and his players were “amazingly powerful”.
“If players feel they want to walk off, they should,” said Bhandari.
“Once somebody has done that it won’t be long before someone else does the same if they’re in a similar circumstance.”
An opposition player from Phoenix Rising was accused of making the comment just before half-time in the USL Championship match. Martin had been sent off after the incident, but the red card was rescinded.
Instead, one was given to 38-year-old former Everton loan forward Donovan – the United States’ second-most capped player – after he came on to the pitch in the aftermath.
Loyal players returned after the break but walked off when the referee blew his whistle, forfeiting a match they were leading 3-1 and ending their chances of reaching the play-offs.
Kick It Out has recently launched its new initiative Take A Stand, alongside social media platforms Instagram and Facebook, who are building an automated messenger service to enable fans to report abuse directly to the anti-discrimination body.
Bhandari says he would like a “grown-up relationship” with social media companies but he will “continue to have conversations about improving”.
He said: “You shouldn’t take that because I’m having a grown-up relationship with Facebook or Twitter as an indication that I’m satisfied with the speed with which things are being taken down.”