KRAKOW, Poland -- Italy forward Antonio Cassano said Tuesday that he hopes there are no gay players on the national team at the European Championship, and used a derogatory word to describe gays.
After being told by an Italian reporter that there might be some gay players on the team, Cassano appeared at a loss for words before responding.
"Q----- in the national team? That's their business. But I hope not," Cassano said.
Cassano has always been a player who speaks his mind. He had well-documented run-ins with Fabio Capello at both Roma and Real Madrid, and then a separation from Sampdoria after he allegedly insulted club president Riccardo Garrone with a profanity-laced verbal tirade.
He now plays for AC Milan, and risked losing his life after falling ill with stroke-like symptoms on the team plane in October. He then required minor heart surgery that kept him out for five
The question Tuesday was asked by an Italian journalist, citing Alessandro Cecchi Paone, who co-wrote a book earlier this year with a title that can be translated as: "The champion in love. The
banned games of sport."
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli wrote the preface to Cecchi Paone's book, in which he said, "Everyone should be free to live with their desires and their feelings. We all need to dedicate ourselves for a sports culture that respects individuals in every expression
of truth and liberty."
Another Italy forward, Antonio Di Natale, said after the book came out in April that gay soccer players should not reveal their orientation.
Justin Fashanu, the first black soccer player to move in a 1 million pound transfer fee when he joined English club Nottingham Forest in 1981, saw his career fade after he publicly acknowledged
he was gay.
He was found hanged in a London garage in September 1998 at age 37. A coroner ruled his death a suicide.
Former French player Olivier Rouyer, who once teamed with current UEFA president Michel Platini at Nancy, came out after retiring as a coach.