BY NATASHA BARSOTTI –
"Queers in the national team? That's their business. But I hope not."
That's forward Antonio Cassano in response to a media query about gay players on Italy's Euro 2012 team.
And here's Cassano's mea culpa after, as quoted in the UK's Guardian: "I am sincerely sorry my comments have caused controversy and protests among gay groups. Homophobia is not a point of view that I share. I didn't want to offend anyone and I absolutely don't want to put a person's sexual freedom under discussion.
"I only said that it was a problem which was nothing to do with me, and I don't let myself express judgments on other people's choices, which should all be respected."
Incidentally, Cassano was also asked about the presence of meterosexuals on the team but apparently didn't know what the term meant.
Cassano could probably learn a few things other than on-the-pitch strategy from national team coach Cesare Prandelli, who's reportedly supportive of gay players.
Outsports.com reports that Prandelli wrote in the foreword of a book about homosexuality and sport, "Homophobia is racism and it is indispensable that we make further steps to look after all aspects of individuals living their own lives, including sporting figures . . . We must all work for a sporting culture that respects the individual in every manifestation of his truth and freedom. Hopefully soon some players will come out."