The kid had not done anything wrong. He didn't wait to respond to Clark's request. He rolled the ball directly to Clark, not in an opposite direction.
The difference in time had Clark caught a toss instead of picking up the rolled one would have been a second or 2. The flow of play was not interrupted.
Yet, Clark was so offended that he directed a gay slur at a kid.
Clark later apologized on Twitter saying, "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."
He continued, "I didn't mean to disrespect anyone and am sorry for letting my emotions get the best of me. It's not who I am and it won't happen again,"
I have no reason to doubt Clark's sincerity. I don't know anything about him other than what his MLS biography says.
He truly may feel awful about his actions.
It doesn't matter.
When Garber and MLS complete their investigation into the matter, and it shouldn't take long given the clarity of the audio on the broadcast, Clark needs to be whacked, not just slapped on the wrist.
Some people may think it unfair or a "politically correct" overreach, but Clark needs to be made an example. Garber needs to suspend him for at least three to five matches to show that bigotry of any sort will not be tolerated in MLS.
Soccer has a long and sorry history concerning bigotry. FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) was a network setup in 1999 to combat the racism and xenophobia that was ingrained in European football.
FARE's official website proclaims: "Football is the biggest sport in the world and belongs to all of us. It should be the right of every person to play, watch and discuss freely, without fear. We want to see the beautiful game played without discrimination."
FIFA, the world's governing body for soccer, has followed the lead with its own anti-racism campaign. Discrimination is taken seriously in Europe with clubs being fined heavily for any racist actions of their fans.
This season the English Premiere League has featured two highly profiled cases of racism.
Liverpool forward Luis Suarez received an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
Chelsea defender John Terry is scheduled to go on trial in July in England for using racist language toward Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand.
MLS has virtually no history of racial discrimination.
Much of that is due to the fact that the United States is a melting pot and societal rules for racially abusive language long have been established.
That doesn't mean people won't still go there, but they know the backlash can be fierce.
But the world, the USA included, is still in the infancy stage of being serious about discrimination based on sexual orientation. I doubt it would have entered Clark's mind to have hurled a racial slur during a televised match.
Everyone knows the maelstrom that would have been set off had he called that ball boy the "n-word" or some other racial slur.
But it's still too easy for us to arbitrarily hurl gay slurs. In general, we aren't nearly as offended by them.
And even when incidents are called out, condemnation often comes with a wink of the eye.
Soccer, or any sport , has not been nearly as proactive about attacking anti-gay sentiments as they have racial ones. Hate speech is hate speech. It's all-inclusive. It really does not differentiate between race, ethnic origin, religion or sexual preference.
So here is a chance for the United States, long considered a minnow in international soccer, to take the lead on issue that should be taken more seriously.
The slur Clark used has as much place in soccer as does a racial or ethnic slur. MLS should treat it the same and come down with a penalty just as harsh.
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