Dubs boss Jim Gavin backs gay referee in wristband row
DUBLIN GAA football manager Jim Gavin has spoken out in support of referee David Gough, who was banned from wearing a rainbow coloured wristband at a national league match.
Mr Gough (31) said that he felt disappointed and "let down" by the GAA's decision, in which he was told to remove the band as he was making a "political statement".
The freedom wristband is worn to highlight equality and homophobia in sport, and as a personal gesture of support for a 'Yes' vote in the forthcoming referendum on same-sex civil marriage.
Speaking about the controversy, Dublin GAA manager Jim Gavin said he supported Mr Gough.
"I certainly would like to think that society has moved on," he said.
"I wouldn't see this as a political issue, and maybe if he was making a political point then that was not the place for it, but I would sympathise with David Gough," he said.
Mr Gough is the country's first openly gay GAA match official and refereed Saturday's football match between Dublin and Tyrone at Croke Park.
The referee said he was initially granted permission by senior figures in the association until a series of late night phone calls changed everything.
Mr Gough was told that the GAA does not allow political statements and wearing the rainbow wristband breached that rule.
In a statement the GAA said that the decision was "a black and white issue" and that "Croke Park is not the place to make political gestures".
Mr Gough said afterwards: "I had received permission at noon on Friday but then received a number of calls on Friday night and another at 7.30am (Saturday) when they told me they would not allow it.
"At one stage they had offered a compromise where I could wear the wristband under the stands at Croke Park, on the fringes of the pitch or in the dressing rooms, but would have to take it off when I crossed the white line onto the pitch for the match.
"I would not have done that. It would have made it look as if I had something to hide," he said.
Mr Gough is a primary school teacher in St Pius X, Templeogue and has been hotly tipped as a potential All-Ireland football final referee.