Lansing Ignite player benched and fined

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An apology from a player isn't enough for some in Lansing.

Lansing Ignite forward, Ricky Lopez-Espin, was banned and fined for, what is being reported as, anti-gay comments said to fans during a game on Saturday night.

The game was in Greenville, South Carolina where the Ignite won 2-1.

Lopez-Espin had just scored the Ignite goal when his actions drew attention from fans and others.

“I want to truly apologize for my actions in Greenville, specifically to those in the LGBTQ community,” Lopez-Espin wrote in a Twitter post. “This is not who I am & what I stand for. There is no excuse for the language that I used, and I have accepted the four-match ban and fine for my actions.”

At this time, it is unclear what was said to provoke the apology.

He was handed a four-match suspension and an undisclosed fine.

Ignite Owner, Tom Dickson, released the following statement:

Although the actual comment has not been released, there are some in the area that think an apology is not enough.

Strange Matter Coffee and Bakery of Lansing released a statement regarding the matter and asked the team to remove the player indefinitely. (You can read that statement in full with this article.)

"The homophobic slurs used by the Lansing Ignite player and team's response to sweep it under the rug are unacceptable. The cavalier manner the player used the slur in response to an opposing team's fan, openly, publicly, and without reservation, indicate he has said things like this before."

They ended the statement with a call to action: "We call on Lasing Ignite to do something uncomfortable: Release this player from your roster. Donate the fine to a local LGBTQ organization. Do not act like this is business as usual."

On Wednesday, USL League One released its discipline report for Week 3 of the 2019 USL League One season.

They confirmed his suspension for "directing foul and abusive language at a fan."

Lansing Ignite FC’s Ricky Lopez-Espin has been suspended for three games for directing foul and abusive language at a fan during his team’s contest against Greenville Triumph SC. Lopez-Espin will be unavailable for Lansing’s games against the Richmond Kickers (April 13), Toronto FC II (April 26) and FC Tucson (April 30).

This is a breaking news story. WILX News 10 is working to get more details on this story, and will update the story as more information becomes available. 

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