“There is no place for homosexuals on my team. Homosexuality is not good.”
These were the words that were uttered by the president of the Croatian Football Federation Vlatko Markovic earlier this week. Markovic has been the nation’s president for 12 years now and just last year he was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the UEFA for his outstanding service to the sport.
Markovic admitted during an interview for the Vecernji List newspaper that he would “certainly” refuse a homosexual footballer a chance to play for the Croatian national team claiming that he isn’t worried about the scenario coming up because “fortunately, only healthy people play football”. Markovic’s comments have sparked several protest in Croatia and the president is expected to be sued by at least two gay right groups that have already contacted the football federation. The longtime president apologized for his hateful comments and blamed the bad publication on “clumsy interpretation”:
Sorry for a clumsy interpretation. It was not my intention whatsoever to insult or hurt anyone. I have nothing against members of any minority, least of all against those of same-sex orientation. Once again, I apologize to all those who were hurt.
The apology is a nice thought, but of course the whole interview proves that it is not necessarily a sincere apology. Markovic should never openly admit that he would never give a homosexual player a chance (especially in the 21stcentury) and he should never suggest that nobody, but the best players should be on the pitch. It will likely be a very long time before a gay player is brave enough to step forward and announce this openly because of people with agendas like the Croatian Football Federation president and that is unfortunate considering the likelihood of their being several professional athletes that already hide the fact that they are gay every day of their life.
And who knows? Some of those unknown gay athletes just might play soccer in Croatia. What if the next Pele is just happens to be a young homosexual boy in Croatia dreaming of one day playing for his nation and winning the World Cup? You may think that example is a bit farfetched or silly, but the point is that the best eleven players should play regardless of their race, religion, creed, or sexual preference.
They should play because they are the best and for no other reason at all.