Part of complete coverage on
Cassano apologizes for homophobic comments
June 13, 2012 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
Italy forward Antonio Cassano during a Euro 2012 press conference in Krakow
- Italy striker Antonio Cassano apologizes for apparent homophobic comments
- Cassano quoted as saying: "I hope there aren't any queers in the national team."
- Comments sparked outrage amongst gay rights groups
- Cassano issues statement, saying: "Homophobia is not a sentiment I feel. I didn't want to offend anyone."
(CNN) -- Italy striker Antonio Cassano has apologised for apparent homophobic comments he made in a Euro 2012 press conference.
The outspoken striker's comments came after he was asked about an Italian TV personality's claim that there are two gay players in the current Italy squad.
Cassano is reported to have responded: "If they're queer, that's their problem. I hope there aren't any queers in the national team."
The Milan striker's comments were largely laughed off at the time, but sparked outrage among gay rights groups.
Euro racists face criminal sanctions
Ruud Gullit: Euros will confront racism
Those reactions prompted an apology on Tuesday, with Cassano issuing a statement which read: "I'm sincerely sorry that what I said has sparked controversy and protests from gay associations.
"Homophobia is not a sentiment I feel. I didn't want to offend anyone and I certainly didn't want to call into question anyone's freedom of sexuality.
"I only said it wasn't my problem and I wouldn't allow myself to judge others. Everyone deserves respect."
Campaign group the Gay Centre in Italy had hit out at Cassano's original comments, using an Italian slang phrase for doing something stupid that plays on Cassano's name.
"Cassano says 'cassanate' (stupid things) about gays, showing his arrogance and irresponsibility," said spokesman Fabrizio Marrazzo in a statement.
"Unifying sport and homophobia gives a dangerous message, especially to the young," he added.
Despite gay sportsmen making public their sexuality in other sports, there are no high-profile gay footballers in Europe's major leagues.
Gay rights groups have called for someone to step forward and make known their sexuality and last year Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer told Bunte magazine: "Those players who are homosexual should say so. That would take a load off their minds."
Former Nottingham Forest forward Justin Fashanu is the only English footballer to have come out, later in his career.
He killed himself in 1998, aged 37, after being questioned by police in the United States about an alleged sexual assault on a 17-year-old boy.
Another British athlete, former NBA star John Amaechi, came out but only after he had ended his basketball career.
Former Wales rugby union international Gareth Thomas came out at the end of his career but said he had not done so earlier as he did not want to be known for his sexuality rather than his sporting prowess.
Part of complete coverage on
June 29, 2012 -- Updated 2226 GMT (0626 HKT)
Sunday's Euro 2012 final in Kiev pits holders Spain against Italy, between them the winners of the last two World Cups.
August 22, 2013 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Euro 2012: Images from 13th European Championships being held in Poland and Ukraine.
June 29, 2012 -- Updated 1447 GMT (2247 HKT)
Can English football reinvent its "warrior" style to emulate the success of freeflowing football nations such as Spain and Germany?
June 22, 2012 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
The Germany-Greece quarterfinal at Euro 2012 is just one example of when political and sporting lines become blurred.
June 20, 2012 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
CNN's panel of football experts look at the Euro 2012 contenders ahead of the quarterfinal stage.
With Euro 2012's group stage now over, CNN's Pedro Pinto picks out his highlights of the action in Poland and Ukraine.
June 19, 2012 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
UEFA's decision to fine Nicklas Bendtner for revealing a sponsor's name on his underpants during Euro 2012 may have opened a can of worms.
CNN's Alex Thomas wonders how such an exciting football team as Spain could become, as heretical as it may seem to say... boring.
June 14, 2012 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
Fighting in the streets of Warsaw during the opening week of Euro 2012 is a stark reminder that football's "disease" has not been cured.
CNN's Amanda Davies argues that footballers are picked for their sporting ability, not because they can do justice to their national song.
June 8, 2012 -- Updated 1346 GMT (2146 HKT)
Poland kicked off Euro 2012 as one of the underdogs. It is a far cry from the days when the nation was one of the most feared teams in world soccer.
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Euro 2012 is almost upon us and Europe's finest footballers will be marked men -- in more ways than one.
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
CNN World Sport looks at the challenges that teams and host countries Poland and Ukraine faced to get to the Euro 2012 cup.
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
As national teams arrive in Poland and Ukraine, will the tournament be a football success or overshadowed by racism?
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1917 GMT (0317 HKT)
If the pre-vote predictions had been accurate, football heavyweights Italy would be preparing to host the 2012 European Championship.
CNN's Pedro Pinto predicts who will fly and who will flop at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Have your say here.
June 6, 2012 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Portugal have never won a major tournament at senior level, could this be the year the Euro 2012 underdogs shine?
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1859 GMT (0259 HKT)
Some of Europe's best footballers will be missing in Poland and Ukraine this month, as the effects of another grueling season takes its toll.
June 5, 2012 -- Updated 2040 GMT (0440 HKT)
Can defending European champions Spain retain their title in Poland and Ukraine? CNN's Pedro Pinto reports.
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1902 GMT (0302 HKT)
Euro 2012 is nearly here and the 16 competing nations have announced the final 23-man squads.
June 22, 2012 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
Check out who is playing who, and where, as 16 teams compete at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1920 GMT (0320 HKT)
Euro 2012 hosts Ukraine and Poland have told CNN a documentary accusing fans from both nations of racism was "unbalanced and biased."
May 18, 2012 -- Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)
UEFA president Michel Platini tells CNN he thinks Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend the final of Euro 2012 in Ukraine -- if Germany reach it.
May 8, 2012 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
It was supposed to be a symbol of Ukraine's development, but next month's Euro 2012 tournament has become mired in controversy.
April 30, 2012 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
Poland and Ukraine will host the European Championships for the first time in 2012, welcoming 14 other teams and football fans from across the continent.
December 9, 2011 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
The build-up to next year's finals has truly begun, so here is CNN's guide to our top 10 most memorable European Championship moments.
December 9, 2011 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
With less than 200 days to go until Euro 2012 football fans across Europe can start to look forward to the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Today's five most popular stories