Alan Gordon vows to make amends
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Alan Gordon said Wednesday he is eager to begin trying to make amends for dropping a homophobic slur on Portland Timbers midfielder Will Johnson during Sunday's match that has since has earned him a three-game suspension.
"I'm going to use this for the good, that's what I've decided to do," the San Jose Earthquakes forward vowed prior to training. "People that know me, know what type of person I am. I will choose to use this in the best way I can ... I will do several things to let people know that it was a mistake."
Gordon was suspended and fined an undisclosed amount for what Major League Soccer called "unacceptable and offensive language" toward an opponent.
In announcing the penalty Tuesday, MLS commissioner Don Garber also ordered Gordon to attend diversity and sensitivity training on top of what all teams undergo to start the season.
"I'm extremely disappointed in myself for that moment," he said. "It's tough to swallow because I know that it was an ignorant moment for me. I'm smarter than that, and I have more self-control than that. But as a role model and as a father ... this is why I do this, for the kids. That's who I really feel bad for, along with the people I offended. I appreciate the sensitivity of the word. It shouldn't be used."
As for what caused him to resort to such language, not even he is sure. He and Johnson squabbled intermittently during the tempestuous match, which the Timbers won 1-0. But in the 60th minute, as Gordon walked by following the awarding of a free kick, he directed an anti-gay slur at Johnson, who told him he could expect to miss three games.
"I was frustrated about how the game was going," Gordon said. "[Johnson and I] were exchanging some words and I said the wrong thing. I made a mistake. That came from somewhere I didn't even know was in me. I don't use that language, and it came out. It was the worst possible timing on a big stage."
Late Wednesday, it was announced that the Earthquakes had asked the You Can Play Project, an advocacy group that is working with professional sports leagues to ensure gay and lesbian athletes are treated with equality and respect, to address the club's players, and that former MLS player David Testo, who announced that he was gay shortly before he officially retired from the sport in 2011, would be involved in the meetings.
With the help of teammate Steven Lenhart, Gordon already has reached out to former Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers, who announced in February that he is gay and promptly retired.
"I wanted to reach out to [Rogers] and make him know that my intentions were not to hurt," Gordon said. "He fully understood. He made me feel a lot better. He just said, 'I understand what happens in the heat of the moment, and I'm not taking it personal. And I know this doesn't reflect [your] beliefs.' He got it."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.