Hard to beat for lack of respect

As a professional soccer player, there are plenty of ways to use your reach and do justice to the oft-cited model function. One could, for example, criticize the World Cup, which begins in a few weeks and takes place in a country where queer people are criminalized, women are structurally disadvantaged and thousands of migrant workers have had to die for the construction of football stadiums.

Spanish goalkeeper legend Iker Casillas has apparently decided on a different way to get a few more likes after his career ends. He probably prefers making jokes at the expense of queer people.

Casillas, who played for Real Madrid until 2015 and was a longtime national team goalkeeper, tweeted on Sunday afternoon: “I hope you respect me. I’m gay.” It took less than half an hour for the tweet to go viral, with thousands of shares and comments, many congratulated him, promised support, but there were also a number of homophobic statements.

Of particular surprise was the comment of his former international teammate Carles Puyol, who wrote: “Time to tell our story Iker” along with an emoji heart and kiss. Normally this tweet would be a small milestone. So far, no active professional footballer in Europe has made it public that they are gay.

The irritating thing: There has been a lot of public debate in recent weeks about who Casillas is dating after he and ex-wife Sara Carbonero split in 2021, but this time the Spanish media held back. That’s why there were also rumors on Sunday afternoon suggesting that Casillas could only make a bad joke. The Spanish newspaper “AS” speculated that he wanted to react to the rumors about the affair.

Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, who last year became the first active top-flight professional to publicly identify himself as gay, took to Twitter to express his disappointment: “Seeing my models and legends make fun of coming out. and my community is more disrespectful. “

After being silent for several hours, Casillas finally deleted the post, claiming that his account had been hacked. He specifically apologized to the queer community. That Casillas was actually hacked seems incredible. On the other hand, it is more plausible that he posted the tweet himself, then received increasing criticism and wanted to limit the damage.

And Puyol? Was that also hacked? He seemed to realize it was going to be a little too obvious and later apologized on Twitter for the “joke with no malicious intent”. He has all his respect and support for the LGBTIQ * community. Former Spanish BVB professional Marc Bartra, who previously wrote “He was time, my friend”, held back with such attempts at explanation.

For queer people looking for role models in professional sports, or who have already made it public that they are queer, Casilla’s alleged disrespect joke is hard to beat. Cavallo rightly speaks of a “difficult journey” queer people face in professional sports. This is also demonstrated by the homophobic statements made under the “coming outs” of Casillas and Puyol. So if you don’t want to be a role model yourself, you should at least make room for others. Because there is enough, as Josh Cavallo has shown.

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