Football star denies meaning to cause offence after given â‚¬15000 fine from UEFA
Italian striker and soccer star Antonio Cassano has received a â‚¬15,000 ($18,400, £11,700) fine for a homophobic comment.
The sportsman stunned reporters during a press conference on 12 June when he said he hoped there were no homosexual players in the squad.
He later said his comments had been misinterpreted and denied he wanted to cause offence.
Cassano has responded to questions about reports in Italy which claimed there were two homosexual players the Euro 2012 group.
‘The [national] coach had warned me that you would ask me this question,’ Cassano said. ‘If I say what I think…I hope there are none. But if there are queers here, that’s their business.’
Cassano apologized for his comments the following day. He said: ‘I sincerely regret that my statements have sparked controversy and protest from gay rights groups.
‘Homophobia is a sentiment that is not mine. I did not want to offend anyone and I cannot 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.’
An Italian consumers’ asssociation Codacons, who is representing a group of gays, filed Italy’s first ever class action against an anti-gay slur.
A Codacons’ statement said: ‘All the gays who feel offended by Cassano’s words should ask for compensation for the moral damage. Our lawyers are ready for a class action.
‘Cassano’s words are dangerous because he is an example for thousands of youngsters and the fact he has said “sorry” is not enough.’
Previous footballers to have been fined for homophobia include Manchester United striker Federico Macheda who called a member of the public a ‘stupid little gay’.