Antonio Cassano has been branded ‘idiotic’ by gay rights activists for saying he hopes there are no homosexual players in Italy’s Euro 2012 squad.
The 29-year-old AC Milan forward has since apologised for his admission during a press conference on Tuesday and is expected to represent his country in Thursday’s Group C game with Croatia.
However, his comments have been met with a withering response from equality campaigners who have poured scorn on the international for his conduct.
“The fact he is commenting on gay people in the first place seems a bit bizarre – it just seems to be a bit of an idiotic statement to make,” Chris Basiurski, chair of the Gay Football Supporters’ Network, told Goal.com.
“If he has not been misquoted then you would like to see the same kind of response from UEFA taken towards him as they would of their national FA as if he said I hope there are no black players in my team.
“We don’t want any special treatment but we would like the sanction to be same as it would be for a player who would make a racist comment like that because it would be hefty.
“An England captain lost his job for allegedly saying something and he is now going to be hauled before the courts. I would be amazed if that happened to this guy. People would say it would be an over-reaction but I don’t think it would be.
“I am not going to shout for him to be prosecuted because you have to see it in context first.”
Basiurski believes Cassano comments show homophobia is still alive and kicking within football.
“Every time a footballer opens his mouth and makes a homophobic comment it means that I don’t have to answer the question of whether or not homophobia still exists in football,” he said.
“It clearly does. You can see it regularly. It is at a low level and an irritating level. Comments like this make it a less tolerant game and that fewer players or football supporters would be willing to come out to their team-mates or their friends.
“It just makes things awkward and it is unnecessary. Someone’s sexuality is of no relevance as to whether they can play football or not.”
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