Marc Burch Crosses the Line
Last night in the Seattle Sounders victory over Real Salt Lake, Sounders defender Marc Burch unleashed a gay slur that was caught on camera. It was captured by SB Nation Seattle:
It was also widely seen by folks on Twitter, including by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl:
Marc Burch just pulled a Colin Clark. Verbatim.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) November 9, 2012
Major League Soccer is in a different position now than they have been in the past. The disciplinary committee has now leveled sanctions against a player for using this exact same language. They have also released a video telling fans “don’t cross the line” when it comes to issues like homophobia, and that very ad was aired during the broadcast of last night’s game.
The League might also see differences as compared to what happened with Colin Clark earlier in the season. Does the target of the slur matter, comparing a volunteer ball kid to another player on the field? Does the scope of who heard it matter, comparing something clearly audible on a sideline microphone to something that is obvious yet inaudible.
The answer to these must be no. Major League Soccer says “don’t cross the line” and Burch crossed it. Casual homophobic language has no place in the game and it cant be tolerated in the locker room, in the stands, or on the pitch. Language like this, even from players who say they are gay-supportive otherwise, is the kind of thing that is keeping athletes in the closet.
And Marc Burch appears to be far from a homophobic person. A commenter on SB Nation says he received a Facebook message from Burch, saying he doesn’t recall using those words and apologizing as he has a lesbian family member himself.
But actions have consequences and even in this hectic playoff season, this incident needs to be addressed by the league.
We have been told to expect a statement from the Seattle Sounders sometime today, and will bring that and any action from the league to you as it happens. SB Nation Seattle has a good open letter to Burch on their page.