Prominent LGBTQIA+ campaigner weighs in on Iker Casillas' 'joke' about coming out as a gay
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A prominent LGBTQIA+ campaigner has claimed that Iker Casillas must prove he was hacked following a since-deleted tweet that appeared to be the goalkeeper coming out as gay.
Amal Fashanu is the niece of Justin Fashanu, the late player who became the first professional footballer to come out as gay in 1990.
The former Norwich City player tragically killed himself in 1998, eight years after revealing his sexuality.
Fashanu set up a foundation in her uncle’s name to tackle discrimination against LGBTQIA+ footballers and has claimed she is disappointed by the actions of Casillas and fellow Spanish player Carles Puyol.
Casillas had tweeted: “I hope you respect me: I’m gay.”
To which Puyol responded in what appeared to be a joke: “It’s time to tell our story.”
The tweets have since been deleted with Casillas claiming his account had been hacked.
Fashanu told The Sun: “It’s obviously unclear at this stage what’s happened, and whether Casillas was a victim of a hack or whether this is some kind of weird practical joke.
"If it’s the latter, then it would be hugely disappointing because this issue really isn’t something to joke about for the sake of trying to attract some tweets and attention.
"If Casillas has been hacked, then it’s important the person who did it is found as this would be abhorrent because sexuality is nobody else’s business apart from the individual involved.
"We still see a lot of homophobic abuse online and it has to end.
"As a foundation, we would urge the player to show evidence of the hack."
Upon deleting his tweet, Carles Puyol apologised for what he claimed to be a ‘clumsy joke’.
He said: “I have made a mistake. Sorry for a clumsy joke with no bad intentions and totally out of place.
"I understand that it may have hurt sensitivities. All my respect and support for the LGTBIQA+ community."
It was a joke which Amal believes ‘exposes the lack of awareness and understanding’ toward the communities within football.
Amal says that it highlights that more needs to be done by authorities to support players who are brave enough to come out publicly.
Since Justin Fahsanu came out, only a handful of brave players have followed suit.
Blackpool forward Jack Daniels came out in May earlier this year and was supported by the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Jack Grealish.
Meanwhile, Australian Josh Cavello was heavily praised after becoming the only active player at the time to open up about his sexuality in October last year.