Football Club Dismisses Player Over Anti-Gay Tweet


English football club Oxford City has dismissed a player over an anti-gay message he posted to Twitter about former rugby player Gareth Thomas.

Footballer Lee Steele was left out of a game over the weekend following the incident, and the club has now confirmed that Steele has been let go. In a statement the club highlighted that Steele’s conduct was not in line with the club’s ethos.

From Pink News:

The club said its officials had met to discuss the comment last night and posted a short statement on the club website this morning.

It said it had issued the following statement to the FA: “The Oxford City board have decided to release Lee Steele in view of his recent comment via social media which is considered seriously contrary to the ethos of the club.”

Steele, commenting on Gareth Thomas’ appearance as a housemate on the British version of Celebrity Big Brother, posted to Twitter on Thursday of last week:

“I wouldn’t fancy the bed next to Gareth Thomas #padlockeda**ehole.”

The comment was then removed and Steele’s Twitter feed fell silent.

The Justin Campaign, named after openly gay player Justin Fashanu who tragically took his own life due in part to the homophobic treatment that practically ended his career,released a statement commending the club on its swift and decisive action:

While it is never pleasing to see someone lose a position in a club or company, we fully applaud the club’s decision to terminate the player’s contract.

For far too long homophobic comments like the ones Steele made have been defended using the erroneous argument that such remarks as simply harmless “banter”. However, we no longer accept racist “banter”, and likewise, we must never accept homophobic “banter”. These kind of comments, in which being gay or bisexual is used as joke, have immense power in dissuading members of the LGBT community from either playing or watching football.

Oxford City’s brave decision shows us that things are, slowly, moving in the right direction and that football is starting to take homophobia, biphobia and transphobia seriously.

Thomas, a former professional rugby player who played rugby league for the Crusaders RL in the Super League and rugby union for the Cardiff Blues and his home nation Wales, came out in December 2009.

He became known to the world in 2010 as the then only out professional male athlete in a sports team. Others have since come out including footballer Anton Hysen.

Thomas is still participating in the Big Brother show and is apparently unaware of the incident.

Related Reading:

Football Association Joins Charter to Stamp Out Homophobia and Transphobia in Sport

Swedish Footballer Anton Hysen Comes Out

Photo adapted under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to F650Biker.


Antoinette S.
Antoinette S5 years ago

I agree with Will R. Racism is still alive and's ok to slur someone racially, just don't make any other "phobic" comments. It is hypocritical and one-sided, and an insane injustice. Not only does John Terry get away with a slap on the wrist, but the victim's brother who by all accounts was the most valuable player on his team was sacked after the victim complained about the racist comment. Where is the justice in that? Is it meant as a warning to anyone who complains about racism? Martin Luther King Jr.'s words keep ringing in my mind now: An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
There's a petition hosted on this website with a modest target of 1000 signatures and it cannot seem to even get 100 people to support it. Sign it if you believe racism must end. It starts with each person making small decisions like whether or to sign and share a petition that calls for an end to Racism in Sport. Search for "John Terry" on Care 2 to find it. It's not the most eloquently expressed petition but if you do not like how it's worded, start a new petition, and set a higher target. There should be more than 1000 people in the world willing to support a move to end racism in sport.

marc horton
marc horton5 years ago

that's good news, to ernie m there are enuff jerks out there as is, we are cutting them back maybe they will grow eh?

New G.
W. C6 years ago

Thank you.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

I'm GLAD he was punished

Chad A.
Chad Anderson6 years ago

It is great to hear that people are taking this sort of thing more seriously.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

It's a start....

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

Thank you for the article.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers6 years ago

It's good that these clubs are taking homophobia seriously, now if they can only do the same thing with racism. In the last month there have been several Football players who racially abused their black opponents on the field, with tv coverage. English captain John Terry being the most high profile, these guys only get slaps on the wrist in the form of one match bans, then all is forgiven! It seems it's okay to racially abuse black players but the moment something is said about gays all hell breaks loose. This hypocritical and one sided bigotry is all too common nowadays. Sack all bigots.

John Duqesa
Past Member 6 years ago

Ernie M.

But it's not "in his private life", is it? He posted vile comments on a website for 1000s, if not millions to see. Most companies have clauses in contracts nowadays that if an employee does something that besmirches the repuation of the company or holds public views that are at odds with the company's ethos, then that is misconduct, even gross misconduct. And more power to the club for letting him go.

Tom Pearce
Tom Pearce6 years ago

The idiot should not have posted it on Tweeter! Why would he tell his fans something like this anyway? Obviously it was so he would feel good about himself! He may be the closet queen in this case!