Graeme Le Saux puts Antonio Cassano's homophobic remarks down to ignorance


Graeme Le Saux believes that Antonio Cassano's ill-advised remarks about gay footballers are more likely to be because of a lack of understanding rather than a deliberate attempt to be offensive.

Following rumours in the Italian media that two players in the Italy squad were "secretly" homosexual, Cassano said in a press conference on Tuesday that, if they were, it was "their problem (but) I hope there isn't one (a homosexual) in the national team".

The 29-year-old AC Milan forward later apologised for his comments, following an angry backlash from gay rights campaigners.

While the European Championships have been marred by the threats of racism and hooliganism as shown in BBC's Panorama, Le Saux was the victim during his career of homophobic abuse from the terraces. Despite the accusations being baseless, and also having a wife and two children, Le Saux was often targeted for abuse from fans and even by opposition players for not leading the "traditional" footballer lifestyle. At its worst, Le Saux uncharacteristically lashed out at Robbie Fowler after he was taunted consistently in a fixture between Chelsea and Liverpool in 1999.

Speaking about Cassano's remarks, Le Saux said that "it just shows the level of misunderstanding in the world that we live in. A lot of attitudes are born out of ignorance." Cassano's quick retraction of the statement he made on Tuesday shows what is and what is not acceptable in the modern age. "So often", Le Saux argues, "it is more a lack of understanding rather than being offensive".

The former England international is in confident about his country's chances tonight against Sweden, especially with the encouraging news that Ashley Cole will by starting for his 96th international cap. While England have been fortunate in the last decade to have the services of Cole at left-back, before him the position was problematic to fill.

Le Saux was one such player before Cole's time to have played the position for England; he collected thirty-three caps during his career and started all four matches England played in the 1998 World Cup in France.

Although Cole has been the victim of a reoccurring ankle injury this week, the Chelsea left-back is expected to start. "I don't think that he (Cole) is underrated, his level of consistency is excellent", the former Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers and Southampton player commented. "With players like him who play at that standard it is easy to take it for granted".

Even if the niggling ankle injury strikes once more as it did in Tuesday's training session, Le Saux feels that the cover at left-back that England possess in Leighton Baines is more than sufficient to combat the threat posed by Sunderland winger Sebastian Larsson on the Swedish right flank tonight. "I remember the debate a few years ago when Fabio Capello was manager about whether Baines should be picked or Stephen Warnock".

Le Saux believes the Capello, and subsequently Roy Hodgson, made the right choice. "He's a very good defender, but he is also very gifted going forward. He's very similar (to Cole) in that he's a much better player than what people give him credit for."


Capital One are the new title sponsors of the League Cup. The draw for the first round of the Capital One Cup is out now, and ties will be played week commencing August 13. Visit for more details.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album