Tale of Two Footballs: Euro Soccer Star Doesn’t Want ’Queers’ on His Team; NFL’s Barwin Says it’s A-OK
Homophobia in sports occurs far too often as a number of athletes around the world have made derogatory remarks about gay players. This week, Italy forward Antonio Cassano made anti-gay remarks and said that he hopes there are no gay players on his team. He then used an anti-gay epithet to describe them.
When a reporter told the athlete that there may be some players who are in the closet, Cassano said, "Queers in the national team? That’s their problem, but I hope not. ... But I don’t know."
After receiving criticism from Italian gay activists, who said Cassano should be kicked off his team, the athlete apologized, Out Sports reported.
"I sincerely regret that my statements have sparked controversy and protest from gay rights’ groups," he said in a statement. "Homophobia is a sentiment that is not mine. I did not want to offend anyone and I can not question the sexual freedom of other people. I only said that it is a problem that does not concern me and it is not for me to pass judgment on the choices of others, who are all respected."
These latest remarks are just an example of why some gay professional athletes stay in the closet during their professional career. In January Lee Steele, a British soccer player, was dismissed from the Oxford City of the Southern Premiere League after writing anti-gay tweets.
"I wouldn’t fancy the bed next to Gareth Thomas #padlockeda**ehole," he wrote referring to openly gay rugby star Gareth Thomas’ participation in the popular reality television show "Celebrity Big Brother." Thomas made history as the first out-gay male athlete in any pro team in the world.
Club officials discussed how to handle Steele’s remarks and came to the conclusion that they had to remove him.