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Dublin: 19 °C Saturday 4 July, 2020

"I should not have said that, absolutely. I should not have said it" - O'Neill expands on apology

The Irish football manager has described his own comments as “crass”.

O'Neill says he would be willing to help with LGBT sporting initiatives if his involvement would be helpful.
O'Neill says he would be willing to help with LGBT sporting initiatives if his involvement would be helpful.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

IRELAND’S FOOTBALL MANAGER Martin O’Neill has apologised again for his “crass” comment last week, which has since been met with criticism from LGBT groups.

O’Neill yesterday said that he was making a “genuine apology” for the remarks adding that he would try “not to make such inappropriate comments”.

“If I made inappropriate comments in the Opera House in Cork, I obviously apologise,” he said.

Speaking to newspaper journalists, O’Neill expanded on his feelings following the incident, saying that he regretted his words almost instantly.

“It was inappropriate and I might turn around and say crass now at the end of the day,” O’Neill said.

Almost the minute I had said it, I realised that I should not have said that, absolutely. I should not have said it. You are right to criticise me, believe it or not. Absolutely. It was inappropriate and I could not genuinely be more sorry, that’s the case.

The comments in question were contained in an interview he did with Today FM that were cut from the show’s subsequent broadcast. O’Neill was speaking about travelling to the Super Bowl with his assistant Roy Keane. He joked that two other coaches also went along so that people didn’t think himself and Keane were “queers”.

His comments were criticised by campaigners from the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network and have received further criticism since.

The story has also been reported outside of Ireland with a number of UK outlets also reporting on the controversy.

In a statement this morning, a spokesperson for the Dublin Devils Football Club said O’Neill’s words were “unhelpful”. The Dublin Devils describe themselves as a “gay and inclusive football team”.

“This is the wrong message to send to the LGBTI community a week before the Euro 2016 championships,”chairman John McAree said today.

O’Neill is an idol to many young gay teens all over Ireland. His comments will make them feel isolated, confused and different.  Many young LGBTI men and women play football at local level and support Ireland at international level.

McAree added that they welcome O’Neill’s apology but that the incident served as an example of homophobia within football.

Speaking yesterday, O’Neill added that he would be willing to become involved in any initiative that encouraged the LGBT community to become more involved in sport.

“I’ve no problem saying it, absolutely not. Not at all,” he said.

I will do, first of all if it helps the apology, and secondly if it’s taken in the right spirit, I will definitely do it.

Read: ‘If I made inappropriate comments, I obviously apologise’ – Martin O’Neill sorry for ‘queers’ remark >

Read: ‘Young trans people don’t turn trans when they’re 18, they deserve so much better’ >

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Rónán Duffy

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