December 10, 2012
Swedish soccer team Sörskogens IF has suspended its entire squad after players shouted anti-gay epithets at an opposing team.
According to Queerty, the incident occurred in October during a match between Sörskogens and the Stockholm Snipers, a team that actively welcomes LGBT players. During the game, Sörskogens players hurled insults including “all of you have HIV” and “we’re probably going to get infected.”
“It was a little unpleasant when we went into the dressing room after the game. One of our players was also threatened after things got a little heated on the pitch,” Snipers coach Christoffer Smitz said, according to The Local.
While the team initially was fined about $755 by the Stockholm Football Association (the first time a team has been fined for anti-gay sentiment), club officials took the more drastic step of canceling the rest of the season this week, The Local reports.
On its website, the club said it has received overwhelming support for the decision, Out Sports notes.
According to the Associated Press, Sörskogens team chairman Ketil Torp said the players denied making the comments and the referee did not hear the insults.
In 2011, midfielder Anton Hysén came out as Sweden’s first openly gay male soccer player — only the second high-level professional player in the world to do so, according to the Guardian. (In 1990 Justin Fashanu came out, was shunned by the soccer community and committed suicide eight years later.)
In an email to The Huffington Post, Hysén called the Sörskogens players’ comments “obviously immature” and “clueless.”
And though he said anti-gay sentiment isn’t that prevalent in soccer, he noted that there’s always room for improvement.
“It’s idiotic to act like that,” he said.