Cassano fined 15,000 euros over gay comments

Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:06pm BST

Italy's soccer player Antonio Cassano attends a training session during the Euro 2012 in Kiev June 30, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Italy's soccer player Antonio Cassano attends a training session during the Euro 2012 in Kiev June 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

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(Reuters) - Italy forward Antonio Cassano has been fined 15,000 euros ($18,250) by UEFA for saying during Euro 2012 that he hoped there were no homosexuals in the team.

UEFA said the controversial player had been penalised for a "discriminatory press statement" and had three days to appeal. Cassano has already apologised for his comments.

Asked at a news conference during last month's tournament to comment on reports that there were two "secret" gays in the Italy squad, he said: "That's their problem. I hope there isn't one in the national team."

After criticism from gay groups, Cassano issued an apology through Italian state news agency ANSA.

"I am sincerely sorry that my comments have caused controversy and protests among gay groups. Homophobia is not a point of view that I share.

"I didn't want to offend anyone and I absolutely don't want to put a person's sexual freedom under discussion."

Cassano was one of Italy's most impressive players at Euro 2012, helping them reach the final barely six months after undergoing minor heart surgery.

The talented but volatile striker has became a regular under coach Cesare Prandelli having been overlooked by his predecessor Marcello Lippi.

(Writing by Brian Homewood;

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