Neil Francis in action for Ireland in the 1991 World Cup. ©INPHO

Gay people don't play sport because it is too manly - Neil Francis

The former Ireland lock and Sunday Independent columnist made his comments on Off The Ball.

FORMER IRELAND LOCK Neil Francis has courted controversy with his comments about homophobia in sport.

Francis, who writes a regular column in the Sunday Independent, was a guest on today’s Off The Ball show on Newstalk. The conversion about sports stars coming out began when Francis was asked for his take on American Football player Michael Sam, who the columnists described as “flamboyant” in his playing style. He insisted he would not be watching any of the Winter Olympics because of what he deems to be a hysteria about gay rights in Russia.

Stressing that he was relating to his own experiences in sport, Francis expressed his belief that gay people he had spoken with had no interested in sport. He later commented, “It’s based on my practical [experience] — and it’s not a generalisation — in every sphere of life and in every year, you meet a gay man or gay people in a social environment and the way I look at it, after talking to them, is that they have very little interest in sport.”

He added that he, as a former sportsman, does not like ballet. He also remarked, “Do a survey of the hairdressing industry and find out how many heterosexuals are in that.”

Francis stated his belief that the numbers of sportspeople that are gay does not stand at the 10% mark but is closer to 1%. He declared that the rugby dressing room is a homophobic place and claimed a rugby player who came out as being gay would set themselves up for abuse which ‘could take the edge from your game’.

The response, on Twitter, to the Francis interview has been generally scathing:

Tweet by @Vincent Foley Vincent Foley Vincent Foley


Tweet by @jentaaffe jentaaffe jentaaffe

You can listen to the Francis comments here [go to 12:30].

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