UEFA has fined Antonio Cassano for offensive remarks directed towards homosexuals. The Italian forward was fined 15,000 euros for comments he made during Euro 2012.
Cassano, right, issued an apology for his comments
Asked at a news conference during last month's tournament if there were any gay players on Italy's squad, Cassano said, "I hope there isn't one in the national team." He then went on to use a derogatory term to describe gays.
UEFA said the fine was for Cassano's "discriminatory press statement", which he made at a June 12 news conference in Poland, and that he has three days to appeal the decision.
Cassano had earlier issued an apology through Italian state news agency ANSA after criticism from gay-rights organizations.
"I am sincerely sorry that my comments have caused controversy and protests among gay groups," he said.
"Homophobia is not a point of view that I share. I didn't want to offend anyone and I absolutely don't want to put a person's sexual freedom under discussion."
It's not the first time a high-profile athlete has found himself in hot water for disparaging remarks towards homosexuals. In 2011, basketball star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for uttering a gay slur to express his frustration over the result of a game.
One of Italy's best players at Euro 2012, Cassano helped the Azzurri reach the final just six months after a heart procedure. Italy lost to Spain in the final 4-0.
Homosexuality is a particularly sensitive issue in football. Currently, there are no high-profile male players who are openly gay, though some female players - such as US national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe - have come out. Some gay rights advocates have called for someone to come forward and become the first.
bm/sej (AFP, AP, Reuters)