An Italian football player has had to apologize after reportedly saying in a press conference that he hoped there weren’t any “queers” in the national team.
The player, Antonio Cassano, in a press conference for Euro 2012, was reportedly asked a question about “metrosexuals” in the national squad, something that prompted him to seek clarification on whether the reporter meant “queers.”
During a press conference, the forward was asked a question about an Italian television personality’s claim there are two gay and two so-called “metrosexuals” in the national squad.
“What’s a metrosexual?” Cassano asked the questioner, before adding: “If they’re queer, that’s their problem. I hope there aren’t any queers in the national team.
“But if they’re queer, it’s their business. Are there any? I don’t know.”
After the exchange, Cassano turned to the translator and said: “You’re not going to translate that to the Polish press, are you?”
It should be noted that there are some reports suggesting that Cassano was set-up by reporters. However, whether this is true or not, with LGBT rights groups and even some footballing officials condemning Cassano’s remarks, Cassano has since issued an apology, saying:
“I sincerely regret that my statements have sparked controversy and protest from gay rights groups.
“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.”
While issues surrounding racism have dominated much of the media discourse on Euro 2012, even being discussed by footballing pundits and former players, fears of homophobia and anti-LGBT violence have received far less media attention but have been simmering ever since it was announced that Poland and the Ukraine would be hosts to the tournament. Both countries have poor LGBT rights records and problems with far right extremists.
Some positive news can be found however, with reports that a British lesbian campaigner from Pride Solidarity found football fans in Kyev only too happy to wave her rainbow pride flag.