By Nick Harris
11 November 2010
Vlatko Markovic, the president of the Croatian Football Federation who caused outrage with a recent interview saying no gay players would represent his country during his reign, has marred a subsequently apology by swearing in public at reporters asking him about his apparent discrimination.
In an interview published last weekend, Markovic said: “While I’m a president of the Croatian Football Federation, there will be no homosexuals playing in the national team.” And when asked if he had met a gay footballer, he added: “Luckily, only normal people play football”.
His remarks were condemned at home and abroad, including by the anti-homophobia Justin Campaign, which was publicly supported by the English players’ union, the Professional Supporters’ Association. The PFA’s senior executive on equality issues, Simone Pound, said: “This is quite clearly a discrimination issue. Regardless of your sexuality, colour or creed, gender age or ability the game should be enjoyed by everyone.”
The Gay Football Supporters Network also condemned Markovic’s views, saying football’s European governing body should act, although no formal action has been taken. Chris Basiurski, the GFSN’s chairperson, said: “We wonder what he means by normal? It is normal to be gay, it is normal to like football, it is normal to be gay and like football. We will be most interested to see Uefa’s response to his comments and hope that it will apply the same standards that it would had Mr. Markovic had questioned whether black or Asian players were not ‘normal’.”
Markovic then issued a statement of apology on his federation’s website, saying he was “sorry that my comments have been in any way misinterpreted … My intention was in no way to insult or offend anyone … I have absolutely nothing against members of any minority, especially not against those of homosexual orientation.”
But asked at a subsequent public meeting about controversies surrounding him, the 73-year-old, running for a fourth term in office, shouted: “You can write it down: I’m f**king sick of you reporters.”
Anti-homophobia groups want Markovic to approve an anti-homophobia message ahead of Croatia’s next Euro 2012 qualifier but there has been no sign this will happen.