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Italian soccer coach makes controversial homophobic remark
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Italian soccer coach makes controversial homophobic remark

by James Whitely - SGN Contributing Writer

Italian FIFA soccer coach Marcello Lippi said on August 26 that he would not select two players for his squad if they were openly involved in a homosexual relationship. He insisted that his statement was not rooted in homophobia, but rather concerns for team morale.

"In the current climate, two national team players could never be involved in an open relationship." Lippi told a web-TV station.

"Imagine how a homosexual couple in football would be perceived. & Even if, socially, most people would support and understand such a situation, it would nonetheless become magnified and eventually would be viewed negatively," said Lippi.

Lippi, having led the Italian team to victory in the 2006 World Cup, is an icon in an already soccer-obsessed country, where games and the lives of its top players are analyzed in detail in the local media.

Lippi went on to say that he would have no problem signing a Gay player, "but that person would find it hard to live as an openly Gay footballer."

Nonetheless, Italy's foremost national Gay rights organization, Arcigay, responded August 26 that "such comments only increase prejudice against homosexuals and are particularly damaging coming from someone such as Lippi, who is held in such high esteem by the young."

Possibly even more outrageous, however, Lippi stated that in his 40 years in soccer, he has never met a homosexual, and that there are no Gay players.

As Seattle is a city where soccer is important to the Gay community, the SGN asked Seattle Stonewall Football Club to comment.

"One of our players is from Italy. & He's moving back to Italy & and he doesn't want to go back in the closet. If he is out and open with his sexuality, he won't be able to be open in soccer. In a way, I can understand, only based on what my teammate has told me. I'm not saying that it's right; it just seems like standard practice", Seattle Stonewall player Steve Nick told SGN.

Nick went on to say, "It's clear that Gays and Lesbians play sports. On that [nonprofessional] level, I think it's asinine. On a professional level, I can understand why someone would not want to come out, because it's not quite accepted 100%. If you're paid to be there, you have to be as accepted as possible & because of loss of sponsorships, et cetera."

Obviously, not everyone can completely understand the complexities of being "out" in a foreign country - especially while being in the media spotlight - but it is logical to assume that Mr. Lippi, in 40 years of soccer, has encountered Gay players.

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