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Thursday 8 December 2016

'Martin O'Neill's gay remark was idiotic', says RTE's Byrne

Stephen Byrne
Stephen Byrne

RTE presenter Stephen Byrne has labelled soccer boss Martin O'Neill an "idiot" over controversial comments he made at the Super Bowl in the US in February.

Byrne  made the remarks ahead of his documentary, Playing Straight, which airs tonight and explores homophobia in the soccer world.

O'Neill landed himself in hot water after saying he went to the Super Bowl with assistant Roy Keane, and took Steve Guppy along because he didn't want people to think they were a couple of "queers".

Although O'Neill later apologised, Byrne said the remark left a lasting impact on him.

Alienates

"What he thought was a joke alienates 15, 16, 17-year-olds who, like me, were thinking, 'Am I gay? No, football doesn't allow me to be gay'."

A life-long Chelsea fan and former schoolboy player, the TwoTube presenter hit out at O'Neill's remarks.

"I don't think he's homophobic at all. I think he's stupid. I just think he's an idiot.

"He's made the same sort of misogynistic jokes as well. They haven't landed, obviously. But they get forgotten about so quickly," he told RTE's Ryan Tubridy.

Byrne, who came out as gay at the age of 20, said he was surprised because O'Neill was a former team-mate of Justin Fashanu, who remains the only Premiership footballer to have come out. He took his own life in 1998.

The FAI declined to comment on O'Neill's remarks when contacted by the Herald.

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