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Former Irish Rugby Star Says Gays Have No Interest In Sports: VIDEO


Former Irish Rugby star and sports commentator Neil Francis recently made comments about homosexuality and sports that have landed him in hot water. As RTE Sport reports, the remarks ensued during a round-table conversation on the radio show Off the Ball on Newstalk that began with a discussion of American football player Michael Sam’s recent coming out. Referring to Sam, Francis said:

“This is a different coming-out than any other. I was in the States, and I was watching Missouri [Sam’s college team] play, before they got to the Cotton Bowl, and I noticed this guy because he was very flamboyant, and y’know, a bit of a showman, and a very good player. No question about that.

“And I think it was Jimi Hendrix that said, ah, y’know, talking about Janis Joplin’s death, y’know: ‘Great career move’. So, is this - what is the motivation for coming out?”

After questioning Sam’s motives for coming out, Francis then went on to insist that there are not that many gay men involved in sports and that gay men by and large have little interest in sports:

“You do a survey of the hair-dressing industry and find out how many heterosexuals work in that…Professional sport, by its very nature, doesn’t promote, y’know, sort of, there are a wide range of people who are homosexual, and, that exact, the environment that they’re in isn’t something that they’re interested in…What are their interests? I mean, If you’ve ever sat down with, y’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.”

 On how his views will be received, Francis added:

 “A lot of people would sort of say, well, y’know, y’know sort of what you’ve said really is stereotyping, but y’know, I don’t care. I’m here. I’m gonna express an opinion.”

Francis said he hadn’t watched any of the Winter Olympics because 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.”

Francis has since attempted to backpedal his derisive statements, according to The Telegraph:

"When I got home I had a listen to the interview again and it didn't sound like me at all – and a lot of people who listened to it said 'it's not your form'," he said on Today FM's 'The Last Word' programme yesterday.

"Some of the points I tried to make were very clumsily made and my language and the analogies I tried to make were quite poor and poorly expressed, and it's unusual for me not to be able to articulate myself. In this instance, I was unable to do so.

"Listening to what I said, on reflection, I probably said the wrong things and some of the things I said were extremely clumsy. On reflection, I would like to withdraw those comments and apologise profusely and unreservedly.”

You can watch the original discussion in full, AFTER THE JUMP…

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  1. I actually feel sorry for this man. The layers of ignorance are so deep that I wouldn't even try to convince him otherwise. But...

    Did he really say hairdressers? Does he know that a lot of straight people have no interest in sports? Has it occurred to him that gay men and women might not have been drawn to athletic pursuits because it has (and continues to be) a hostile, unwelcoming environment? And that those that did enter the arena knew it was safer to pretend? I know I not adding anything that we all don't know but I had to vent.

    Posted by: MikeBoston | Feb 18, 2014 6:58:40 PM

  2. Why don't we pair him off against Brian Boitano in a figure skating competition, and we won't judge it on how graceful they look, but simply on whether he can jump as high and go as fast as Brian can for the same amount of time.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 18, 2014 7:10:01 PM

  3. Wow, an ignorant Irish mumbling bigot. A rare find, indeed. If it's not too late to apply, the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York needs a cleanup crew for the police horse's contributions.

    Posted by: Wavin' Dave | Feb 18, 2014 7:16:15 PM

  4. The guy is an ignoramus !
    Which just proves that they are not all in the USA - we've got more than our share in ireland.

    What really pi$$e$ me off is his disrespect for the Gaelic players of Hurling , Donal Og Cusack and his brother, two of the hardest, greatest players who have come out in the past year.
    Yeah, Francis, go up to either of those men and call them hairdressers.
    And the show 'Off the Ball' on Newstalk is just time filling Talk Radio......
    I won't be getting excited whatever this piece of fat blathering bovine blubber spouts next.

    I had better not mention again one of my heroes, MARK BINGHAM, gay Rugby player from San Francisco who brought down Flight 93; this oaf/buffoon has probably been too busy trying to find his navel to have ever heard of Mark Bingham.
    Oh yeah, some of us hairdresser gays like rugby, some of us grew up in cities, Limerick, where rugby was a deity.

    No, I don't feel sorry for him, @ MIKEBOSTON. Too many ignoramuses get away with this kind of "playing to the straight gallery". We need to kick this attitude in the head.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 18, 2014 7:23:09 PM

  5. As a former college athlete and coach...oh, forget it, why respond to such a dismal nitwit. The only person that doesn't know this guy is a dope is this guy.

    He is why the word assclown was invented.

    Posted by: Bart | Feb 18, 2014 7:26:11 PM

  6. Typical heterosexual bigot. Has absolutely no idea about gay oppression, and is vocal about not wanting to know. He stopped watching the olympics bceause human rights issues turned him off. I mean, If you’ve ever sat down with, you know, heterosexual people, and asked them what their interests are, very often they have no interest in any kind of human rights issues. That’s my experience from sitting down with them; I’ve done it on a regular basis.

    He's happy to broadcast stereotypes against a marginalized group while knowing they are stereotypes during articulation, and happy to say he's happy about it.

    He puts the cart before the horse: It's not that many gays aren't interested in sports, it's that they become DISinterested in sports because they aren't welcome; they get shunned and abused. He doesn't get that, nor does he want to. Prideful ignorance from a heterosexual sports star; how surprising...

    Go get cancer and rot, bigot.

    Posted by: Nicatinoid | Feb 18, 2014 7:26:41 PM

  7. @ WAVIN'DAVE :

    Take it easy on us dude; we're not all ugly fat bigots.
    As I said we got our share......but let's not start counting the score, otherwise we could be here all night with a parade of bigots,Scott Lively et al.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 18, 2014 7:28:00 PM

  8. love when the one man says why do they have to say it out loud. Why not keep it hidden. Does he really think if Sam did not tell everyone and he was picked the news would not find out and make a big deal out of it.

    Posted by: Jaysonn | Feb 18, 2014 7:28:36 PM

  9. Good to see Jamie Heaslip (the captain of the Irish national rugby team) retweeting criticisms of Francis's comments on Twitter.

    Posted by: Post | Feb 18, 2014 7:33:21 PM

  10. he likes stereotyping? how about we serve him his own dish. he's irish so he must be an alcoholic with violent tendencies then, huh.

    Posted by: jed | Feb 18, 2014 7:33:44 PM

  11. @ JED :

    Ugh ! I think you just called me out !!!!

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 18, 2014 7:35:23 PM

  12. Roughly 95% of any disinterest in sports I have is because people like Neil Francis make me want to get as far away from them as possible. But me ceding the sporting world as a kid to d-bags like Neil Francis does not mean that it should have happened or that it should happen for the next generation.

    I herby give Neil Francis the finger, sorry. But at least I'm being more direct about it. I'd rather beat him on the playing field, but this will have to do for now.

    Posted by: Just_a_guy | Feb 18, 2014 7:36:45 PM

  13. These people go into battle with a half-loaded gun or a water pistol and expect to win the hearts and minds of their opponents and then they get all mad, or confused, or whatever when their little water pistol doesn't win the day or their bullets in their half-cocked gun doesn't earn them victory. The only way this guy is going to appear to be anything other than just plain stupid is to get bigger guns and better ammo--which would then put him on our side, because there just ain't no better ammo than the truth, which we have in abundance.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | Feb 18, 2014 7:39:34 PM

  14. Undoubtedly he believe this because no one wants to screw him.

    Posted by: enchantra | Feb 18, 2014 7:42:15 PM

  15. I love sports, I have since I was a kid. I'm a huge baseball, football, soccer and ice hockey fan, I go to games when I can and watch stuff all the time on TV. Hell, I'll watch stuff like cricket or team handball when I get the chance.

    Hairdressing, on the other hand, has never interested me in the slightest.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Feb 18, 2014 7:43:21 PM

  16. Ah.. Not to stereotype or anything...this is my opinion, so gonna say it, I think Irish Sports commentators are stupid idiots. And they like to hang around other stupid idiots and those idiots aren't interested in being the least bit human. Ask anyone. That's just how see it.

    Posted by: SportsDude | Feb 18, 2014 7:57:35 PM

  17. @MikeBoston.
    Vent away. Of course his diatribe is all a lot of rot to us but you'd prolly be surprised at the number of non-regulars who see our comments and it's an awakening to them. For the most part the world's heteronormative matrix has shielded people like Francis from having to deal with things like LGBT rights violations until it affects them directly. We as a community have done a pretty good job of penetrating (no pun intended) that matrix. So when an athlete like Michael Sam knows he is assured of support from his extended family and comes out proudly & publicly the stereotypes they've used to excuse their privilege crumble and they're left floundering.

    One of the most enlightened and vocal groups on all human rights you'll find anywhere are the LGBT affirming Irish. Search 'Panti Bliss Irish Times' and read the comments sections. Kudos to our Irish compatriots.

    NEVER stop mentioning Mark Bingham. He hasn't gotten anywhere near the full recognition he deserves.

    Here's a group that would like to talk to you Francis. Ireland's gay rugby team the Emerald Warriors.

    Posted by: BOOM! | Feb 18, 2014 8:04:19 PM

  18. Freakin' idiot!

    Posted by: Dave in PA | Feb 18, 2014 8:26:29 PM

  19. lol !

    Posted by: ggrr | Feb 18, 2014 8:30:07 PM

  20. "Rugby is a homophobic environment," or "football is a homophobic environment"--when uttered by a bigot translates to:

    "I fully buy into the apartheid system in rugby (or football, or basketball, whatever the sport at issue) that treats gay people as subhuman--therby privileging me (whoever is saying this drivel) simply for being heterosexual." This phenomena corresponds to the 'poor white trash' phenomena of the segregation age. (And also might explain the higher prevelance of unattractive people opposing gay people's very status as humans??)

    In my experience growing up with teammates who espoused these lines, it was almost always the half-ass mediocre players who said them or said them the loudest and the most often. Granted, it made me want to escape them; their oppression WORKED in the short-term. But we CANNOT let it work in the longterm. It MUST be overcome.

    Posted by: Just_a_guy | Feb 18, 2014 8:42:57 PM

  21. This person is of no interest to me but i absolutely love watching Turkish Oil Wrestling!

    Posted by: John | Feb 18, 2014 9:21:59 PM

  22. Obviously developed brain damage from his Rugby days, what with all the tackles and beer drinking.

    Posted by: StevyD | Feb 18, 2014 10:34:33 PM

  23. Does it ever occur to people that gay people generally gravitate toward professions where they might feel more safe? And if those are professions that either deal with women or are more "feminine", it might be because gay people are avoiding the threats that come with engaging masculine culture (and it's numerous insecurities)?

    The problem may be less that gays are not interested in being part of than that hyper macho/masculine men have difficulty including homosexuality into their worldview. And we know it and many of us don't want to deal with the threats, intimidation, marginalization, etc.

    Posted by: mike128 | Feb 18, 2014 10:43:56 PM

  24. Jimi Hendrix was alive to comment on Janis Joplin passing away?

    Well that explains a lot.

    Posted by: MickyFlip | Feb 18, 2014 11:32:45 PM

  25. Say y'know again.

    Posted by: JMC | Feb 19, 2014 6:15:28 AM

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