Anton Hysén, Justin Campaign Respond to Antonio Cassano’s Comments About Gay Players
Yesterday, Italy striker Antonio Cassano said he hopes there aren’t any gay players on his National Team (using an Italian derogatory term for gay people.)
A Swedish newspaper contacted out player Anton Hysén for his reaction (translation via The Guardian):
I don’t understand how a role model such as Antonio Cassano can say something like that. It is sad and I don’t understand how someone who is playing at that level can say something like that. He is a big name in the game and a role model for others. It is not good. It is difficult to know how to deal with things like this. I can’t get involved but the Italian Football Federation must look into it. Something can always be done.
Anton’s half brother Tobias is a forward for the Swedish squad at the Euros, currently facing their own issues with some hazing-type behavior after their first-game loss.
The Justin Campaign, who works to fight for LGBT equality in UK soccer, also released a statement:
Once again we see a top footballer making homophobic comments to the media. Once again we see footballing authorities making a hasty u-turn in clarifying the words said to avoid a PR disaster. Once again the world receives an apology.
With such a backdrop is it any wonder why footballers openly admit their sexuality?
This is about more than PR management, it is people’s lives. Change will not happen overnight. But Cassano’s comments are at best unhelpful, at worst homophobic, and football needs a better example set by its figureheads if true equality is to be reached on and off the pitch.