The European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) today condemned comments made by Vlatko Markovic , President of the Croatian Football Federation in an interview with Croatian national daily Vecernji List.
Mr Markovic remarked that there was no place for gay players on the national side, stating
While I'm a president of the Croatian Football Federation, there will be no homosexuals playing in the national team,
Mr Pepe Garcia Vazquez, Co-president of the EGLSF, an organisation representing over 17,000 lesbian gay bisexual and trans (LGBT) athletes across Europe says of the comment:
We are appalled by Mr Markovic’s statement, which is not only highly offensive, but is also clearly at odds with Croatian anti-discrimination legislation. These kinds of comments not only have a negative effect on individual players, but ultimately harm the game. We are expecting the Croatian FA to make a full apology and will be calling on UEFA, through our representation within the FARE Network to challenge Mr Markovic.
Ulrike Lunacek, MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup in the European Parliament and active participant in several euro-, out- and gay games:
The homophobic statement of Vlatko Markovic is highly problematic and does not reflect reality in the sports world. It is of particular concern in light of the status of Croatia as an EU candidate country. It is a causa sine qua non that Croatia has to implement the EU anti-discrimination legislation before becoming part of the Union.
Homophobic declarations are not only completely at odds with the values of the European Union, they also show that the law itself is never enough: important public figures may not be explicitly homophobic – and if anyone is, then public authorities should criticize this attitude.
Statements like the one from Vlatko Markovic recall some of the possible catastrophic consequences of homophobia, like the tragic death of the football player Justin Fashanu in 1998 – the English footballer who committed suicide after coming-out. Markovic' statement shows the necessity of campaigns like FairPlay and FARE in sports in order to make life easier for gay and lesbian professional and amateur sportspeople as well as for fans and spectators to learn and accept that they exist.