Antonio Cassano’s statement that he hoped there were no gay players on the Italian national team opened the sport’s proverbial worm can Tuesday night. To Italy’s credit, coach Cesare Prandelli, openly supports gay athletes, though this is probably not a difficult to position to take in professional footballfutbolsoccer since there are no openly gay players. France international Olivier Rouyer came out in 2008 but not as a player. The last player to do so was Justin Fashanu, who had brief stints in Toronto and Hamilton. He remains the only active professional player in the world to disclose that he was gay. As a player for Nottingham Forest in the early 80’s, he was restricted from training with the team by manager Brian Clough after Clough discovered the Nigerian-born player was gay. Fashanu hanged himself in London in a deserted garage in 1998.*
With many teams and countries having their first Jackie Robinson moments in 2012, it’s likely homophobia will remain a dark stain on this sport for time to come. Currently, the NHL is the only major North American professional sports league to confront homophobia. The You Can Play project was spearheaded by Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager, Brian Burke, and his son Patrick, after [Brian] Burke’s son, Brendan, himself openly gay, was killed tragically in a car accident. The video features some of the league’s top players and also some of its toughest fighters repeating the mantra, ‘If you can play, you can play.’ Just how tough is Brian Burke? Consider he once challenged a rival general manager to a fight in a rented barn in upstate New York.
Never accept a fight from a man who offers to fight you in a rented barn. You will lose. One would also be wise to refrain from homophobic comments in the dressing room of a manager who challenges men to fistfights in rented barns.
Gdansk mayor, Andrzej Bojanowski, thanked residents and city employees on the radio “for behaving like normal civilized white people toward our guests who have in turn also behaved like normal white people.” He later apologized, attributing his comments to ‘clumsy phrasing’.
Ukraine vs The World
Sweden, Britain and France are part of a wider boycott of the Ukraine during the Euro over its dismal human rights record. Each are at odds with the show trial and imprisonment of opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, who recently ended a hunger strike after sustaining injuries and alleging torture in a Ukrainian prison where she has been held since facing bribery and corruption charges from President Viktor Yanukovych. You might remember Yanukovych from such past historical events as Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, where Tymoshenko and an entire nation caught him trying to rig a 2004 election. Tymoshenko became prime minister in 2007 until Yanukovych regained power in 2010. Among western Europe’s critics are Hilary Clinton, and princes William and Harry. Tymoshenko’s daughter, Eugenia, reports her mother now suffers from severe spinal problems which may leave her permanently disabled.
Yanukovych’s government is currently attempting legislation that would make it illegal to say the word ‘gay’ in public.
Czech vs Greece
The Czechs beat Greece but if Greece beats Russia, they will qualify for the knockout stage.
Poland vs. Russia
Poland and Russia tied. Then a shitload of people were arrested for being d-bags on the streets of Poland. Russian news reporting that 50 masked Polish supporters attacked Russians in a cafe. Dogs, teargas, rubber bullets, water cannons, 6000 police, and not a single player on either team who gives a shit about any one of these fans.
Spain on tying Italy
“The pitch was dry.”
Get over it Spain.
Dutch fans still haven’t gotten over their country being occupied by Germany and having their bicycles confiscated by Nazis. They bring their historical grudge to a must-win against Germany. The Germans are a little reckless and exciting to watch. They’re also a favourite to win the whole prize, something they haven’t done since 1996.
Portugal needs a win against Denmark to stay alive. Perhaps they will try such strategies as trying to score goals before the end of the game this time around.
It’s called the group of death, but no one will really die.
“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 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.”
*Although his suicide related to assault charges brought against him for which he proclaimed his innocence, in his suicide note he wrote “I do not want to give any more embarrassment to my friends and family.”