Scholes in hot water over alleged homophobic remark

September 27, 2006

Gay rights campaigners have urged Paul Scholes to apologise after the Manchester United midfielder allegedly made a homophobic remark during the Champions League victory over Benfica.

The 31-year-old former England international is alleged to have made the comment after receiving a yellow card from referee Frank De Bleeckere in the 10th minute of last night's clash at the Stadium of Light.

UEFA are waiting for reports from the match delegate and the referee before they decide whether to address the complaints, although they are unlikely to take action if the incident is not reported. They expect the report on Thursday.

Peter Tatchell, of gay human rights group OutRage!, said: 'We urge Paul to apologise and to express his opposition to homophobia.

'No player, referee or fan should have to endure abuse about their race or sexuality.

'There should be big fines and match suspensions for players, managers and supporters who wilfully use anti-gay insults.

'Stewards should be ordered to identify fans who shout homophobic abuse and the Football Association should secure the agreement of the police to arrest and charge them.'

Tatchell called for Scholes to attend a training course on homophobia if he is found to have made the remark, while also urging the Football Association to tackle the problem in the game.

The FA set up the `Football For All' scheme four years ago to make the sport as accessible as possible, encompassing a number of problem areas, including homophobia.

'The Football Association works very closely with a number of group to stamp out inappropriate behaviour in the sport,' an FA spokesperson said.