Sport Rugby

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Neil Francis at the centre of Twitter storm after controversial radio comments

Published 16/02/2014 | 17:38

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Neil Francis
Neil Francis

Pundit Neil Francis has found himself at the centre of a social media storm after controversial comments made on radio this afternoon.

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The former Irish international was speaking on Newstalk’s Off The Ball earlier today where he spoke on a number of topics, including his former team-mate David Corkery’s battle with depression, but it was his remarks on homophobia in sport that received a backlash in many quarters.

Francis questioned American footballer Michael Sam’s motives for revealing he is gay and claimed he would not be watching the Winter Olympics because of the hysteria surrounding gay rights activists.

"I haven't watched any of the Winter Olympics because of the furore," he said, adding that Russia's anti-gay propaganda has overshadowed the sporting event itself.

Francis guessed that the number of homosexuals in professional sport was closer to one per cent of the playing population as from his own personal experiences, he found their interests lay elsewhere.

"Professional sport by its very nature does not promote...there are a wide range of people who are homosexual and the environment that they are in isn't something that they are really interested in," he said.

“As a sportsman you don’t like ballet,” he added.

“If you did a survey of the hairdressing industry, how many heterosexuals work in that?”

Francis also added that a rugby dressing room is "unquestionably a homophobic place" and to admit one’s homosexuality could have a seriously detrimental effect on a career.

“Whatever about the dressing room, I mean there are 80,000 people and you are a corner-back or a line backer, it doesn’t matter, you are going to get abuse from the crowd from some idiots and that can be a distraction.”

“That can be upsetting.”

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