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?
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

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific