Gay people ‘not interested in sport’ claims former rugby player

Neil Francis says only a tiny percentage are in actively involved in professional sports of any kind

Neil Francis  sparked controversy today when he claimed that gay people do not have any interest in sport and that only a tiny percentage are actively involved in professional sports of any kind. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho.

Neil Francis sparked controversy today when he claimed that gay people do not have any interest in sport and that only a tiny percentage are actively involved in professional sports of any kind. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho.

 

Former Irish rugby international Neil Francis sparked controversy today when he claimed that gay people do not have any interest in sport and that only a tiny percentage are actively involved in professional sports of any kind.

The player-turned-pundit was speaking on Newstalk’s Off the Ball today and when asked by presenter Joe Molloy if he believed the percentage of gay people involved in sport was lower than the 10 per cent which is the estimate of the general population who are gay, he said he suspected “that nowhere near 10 per cent. I would say in the smaller margin of 1 per cent.”

When his statement was challenged by the presenter he went on to say: “What are their interests? I mean, If you’ve ever sat down with, you know, homosexual people, and asked them what their interests are, very often they have no interest in any kind of sport. That’s my experience from sitting down with them; I’ve done it on a regular basis.”

He said in his experience rugby dressing-rooms were homophobic places but he rejected suggestions that his comments were either generalisations or homophobic.

“It’s not a generalisation - that, you know, in every sphere of life. . . you meet either a gay man or gay people in a social environment... and my, my, the way I look at, you know, sort of, after talking to them, they have very little interest in sport. Very little.”

He said that professional sport “by its very nature” was not something gay people would be interested in and immediately added that he did not “have an interest in ballet.”

He accepted that by making his comments he opened himself up to accusations of “stereotyping” but said he did not care.

“I’m here. I’m going to express an opinion,” he told the programme

He also said he had been turned off the Winter Olympics because of the focus on sexual orientation and the homophobic position adopted by the Russian authorities. He said he was “sick and tired of, y’know, sort of picking up, y’know angles on whether the Russians have an anti-gay policy or not. It’s about the Olympics or not, and the side issue has just put me off.”