Tuesday 17 September 2019

Inter-county ref David Gough opens up about the homophobic abuse he suffered at Croke Park

Referee David Gough. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Referee David Gough. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Inter-county referee David Gough has spoken about being subjected to homophobic abuse from the stands during an inter-county game at GAA headquarters.

Gough, the country's first openly gay GAA match official, is on the GAA's elite panel of inter-county referees and is highly respected in the game.

The Meath native said he never has issues with players or team officials but can be targeted by supporters during games.

Speaking on Off The Ball today, he was asked whether he had suffered homophobic abuse.

"Definitely, but not by the players or management teams. The players have a  huge amount of respect for me and it goes both ways," he said.

"They're covered in rule by homophobic or sectarian language but when you go outside of that, outside of the player environment and into the stands, that's where the abuse comes.

"There is a general lack of knowledge and ignorance around it.

"I have an ear-piece in one ear and the rest is background noise.

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"I did experience that in my time at Croke Park. I was on my way off the field and I just kept going. I didn't want to stop.

"It was embarrassing for me because my umpires are my family. I've an uncle, a cousin, a brother and a father there and they are walking off the pitch with me. They have to listen to it too and I find more difficult that they have to deal with it.

"To a certain extent, I know how to deal with it but they shouldn't have to."

He admitted that the abuse 'chips away at you'.

Gough was refused permission by the GAA to wear a wristband in Croke Park during the Marraige Equality Referendum but the fallout from the story made national headline and sparked a lot of debate.

"The GAA tell us they give us a huge amount of support but we never really see it in their actions, there is no LGBT policy within the GAA. They never fly a rainbow flag above Croke Park when every other part of Dublin in celebrating pride weekend," he added.

"There is no physical signs that the GAA is supporting LGBT."

Asked what he would like to see the GAA doing, he responded: "It's something small but I would love to see them fly a rainbow flag over Croke Park on a championship weekend when Pride is being celebrated in Dublin."

He described the lack of decision around the wearing of rainbow laces for the Irish rugby team today in support of Gareth Thomas as an 'opportunity lost'.

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