Italian footballer Antonio Cassano is expressing 'regret' at the outrage following his statement at a press conference this week in which he said he hopes there are no 'queers' playing on his country's national team.
Cassano now says his comments were misinterpreted.
'I sincerely regret that my statements have sparked controversy and protest from gay rights groups,' he said in the statement posted on the official website of the Italian Football Federation.
'Homophobia is a sentiment that is not mine,' he added. 'I did not want to offend anyone and I can not question the sexual freedom of other people. 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.'
At the Italian national football team's press conference at Casa Azzurri in Krakow on Tuesday (12 June), Cassano was asked about reports that there are two metrosexual players on Italy's team as well as two homosexual players.
'What's a metrosexual?' he asked.
But he was clear on what a homosexual is and added: 'Queers in the national team? That's their business. But I hope not.'