A gay rights association in Italy has called for Antonio Cassano to be dropped after his homophobic comments. “It was horrible and vulgar.”
The striker shocked many when he used an offensive term to describe any gay players who may be in the Azzurri squad.
He released a statement later that evening insisting he was “not homophobic,” but the damage had already been done.
“The words he used in that Press conference were horrible,” President of the gay rights association ArciGay Paolo Patanè told Radio Sportiva.
“It was such an ugly attitude that I have to wonder if footballers feel represented by those ideas. More than anything else, I noticed something extremely vulgar in Cassano’s phrases and attitude.
“I hope Cesare Prandelli will leave him out for the next game or two, so he can send a signal. His denial is not enough.
“Cassano is a great champion and should behave that way with his words and attitude too. He needs to do more than a simple denial.
“The Federation cannot turn a blind eye to a situation like this. It would’ve been good today if the world of football had sent a signal.
“I think a spell on the bench would do Cassano good, even if we are certainly not out for revenge.”
The issue of homosexuality was first raised by author Alessandro Cecchi Paone, who claimed he had a relationship with one of the current members of Italy’s Euro 2012 squad and knew of one other gay teammate.
“I don’t think Cassano received much of an education,” said Cecchi Paone today.
“The fact he is from Bari Vecchia (one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Italy) is not important and does not justify his statements.
“We gay men do not discriminate, are tolerant and intelligent, so we ask for no punishment for Cassano. Instead, I hope he and his gay teammates can help us progress in the tournament.
“It’s only normal that gay players don’t come out when people like Cassano or Luciano Moggi crucify them or demand they leave the team. Luckily, something is changing thanks to young people and women.”