Italy's Antonio Cassano Apologizes for Calling Homosexuals 'Queers'
By Ruth Miyake - Crossmap On June 13, 2012
Italy striker Antonio Cassano has apologized for previous statements he made in which he called homosexuals as "queers," after criticisms from gay rights campaigners.
It was Monday's press conference when Cassano was asked a question about a claim that there are two gays and two "metrosexuals" in Italy's 2012 national team.
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“What’s a metrosexual?” Cassano asked back, adding, “If they’re queer, that’s their problem. I hope there aren’t any queers in the national team."
Cassano used the Italian word “frocio”, which in English is “queer”.
“But if they’re queer, it’s their business. Are there any? I don’t know.”
As his statement sparked controversy and stirred criticism, Cassano apologized in a statement posted on the Italian Football Federation's official website.
"I sincerely regret that my statements have sparked controversy and protest from gay rights groups," he said.
"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."
The 42-year-old forward continued, "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."
Although gay rights groups like the Gay Center took offense to Cassano's comments, many in the soccer community were not surprised, as he is known to be a controversial player with an unorthodox, and often offensive, sense of humor, according to The Christian Post.
In Italy, homosexuality in football is an issue that is often brought up.
"Those players who are homosexual should say so. That would take a load off their minds," Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer told Bunte magazine last year.
The only English footballer to have come out is former Nottingham Forest forward Justin Fashanu. However, he committed suicide in 1998 after being questioned by police in the U.S. about an alleged sexual assault on a 17-year-old boy.