Italy forward Antonio Cassano is in trouble after saying that he hopes there are no homosexual players on the national team at the European Championship, and he then used a derogatory word to describe gays.
After being told by an Italian reporter that there might be some undeclared gay players on the team, Cassano appeared at a loss for words before responding.
“Cecchi Paone says that there are a couple of closet gays in the side? [Did I hear that correctly, you’ve asked whether there] are gays here, in the squad? That’s not my problem. I hope there are none anyway. Not in the national team. But if Cecchi Paone says so, he knows. He’s played for Italy…”
The question Tuesday was asked by an Italian journalist citing Alessandro Cecchi Paone, who co-wrote a book earlier this year with a title that can be translated as “The champion in love. The banned games of sport.”
Gay associations in Italy immediately reacted with outrage to Cassano’s comments.
“Those that express hate toward others should not represent us in the national team,” homosexual cultural club leader Mario Mieli said, according to the ANSA news agency.
Cassano has always been a player who speaks his mind. He had well-documented run-ins with Fabio Capello at both Roma and Real Madrid, and then a separation from Sampdoria when he allegedly insulted club president Riccardo Garrone with a profanity-laced verbal tirade.