Former Spain and Real Madrid goalkeeper Carles Puyol has apologised after searing backlash to his and Iker Casillas’ fake coming out stunt, and insisted he “respects” the queer community.
On Sunday (9 October), Casillas, tweeted: “I hope you respect me: I’m gay.”
As the announcement began to make headlines, his friend and former teammate Puyol joined in, adding: “It’s time to tell our story, Iker.”
However, both tweets were swiftly deleted. Casillas claimed his account had been hacked, but Puyol admitted the interaction had been a “clumsy joke”.
“I have made a mistake,” he tweeted.
“Sorry for a clumsy joke with no bad intentions and totally out of place. I understand that it may have hurt feelings. All my respect and support for the LGTBIQA+ community.”
However, fans seemed less than impressed with the apology.
“A stupid ‘joke’ that only makes it harder for actual gay players to come out,” wrote one.
Others did accept, however, that Puyols apology was better than no apology at all, in the case of Casillas.
A stupid “joke” that only makes it harder for actual gay players to come out. https://t.co/ZeEyjzteSR
— Craig 🎃🏳️🌈 (@NineNineCraig) October 9, 2022
You have to take apologies like this at face value, fair play for owning up to the disgraceful behaviour of earlier, not making excuses like Cassilas. https://t.co/13EOhqplWa
— The Score – WWIA ⭐️⭐️ (@TheScore01) October 9, 2022
See, @IkerCasillas, not hard, is it? https://t.co/lHWjmai1U8
— Craig Bratt (@craigybratt) October 9, 2022
Footballer Josh Cavallo, who made history when he came out last October, tweeted to say “joking and making fun out of coming out in football is disappointing”.
“To see my role models and legends of the game make fun out of coming out and my community is beyond disrespectful.”
But Zander Murray, who last month became the first-ever senior Scottish male footballer to come out as gay, said the pair “never intended to hurt anyone”, and the misjudged “joke” had yet again exposed homophobia in football.
“I genuinely believe Casillas and Puyol never intended to hurt anyone. Puyol’s response in holding his hands up, fair play. Although it’s clear the lack of education both have around this matter,” he said.
The bigger issue, Murray said, was “the bile and hatred being directed at the LGBTQIA+ community and players in [response]”.
⚽️ 🏳️🌈 🤝 #bekind pic.twitter.com/1uuS7qK0Fr
— Zander Murray (@ZanderMurray) October 9, 2022
“[The] majority of the comments under Casillas’ original post were shockingly homophobic and highlight the global issues we are dealing with,” Murray added.
“What message does that give to younger/ current footballers that are struggling with their sexuality?!”
In a message to homophobic Twitter trolls, he said: “Life’s tough enough, stop pretending you’re this wee hardman on Twitter when you’re probably going through stuff yourself.”
After coming out in September, Murray described his life in the closet, describing it as “living in fear 24/7.”
“You’re hiding your phone in case you get messages from friends, constantly double-checking if you have a team night out, you’re cautious with what you’re saying.
“It’s very hard, especially for myself, I’m a character in that dressing room. I’m not quiet in that dressing room, I like to have the banter and to get stuck in, so very challenging.
“My advice to anyone would be, better out than in.”
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