BAD SPORTS

Gay Soccer Ref Loses His Job After Being Called A Faggot

Richie (left) and Richardson (right)

With more and more athletes coming out, the homophobic culture that once dominated sports may be dissipating. But an incident at an amateur soccer match in Scotland last year proves there’s still work to be done.

Dale Ritchie, an amateur soccer player from Scotland, pleaded guilty yesterday to shouting homophobic slurs at gay referee Joe Richardson during a match in Bridge of Earn, Perthshire last year.

Ritchie called Richardson a “faggot,” a “poof,” and told him he was only a referee so he could “watch boys in tight shorts.” At the time, Ritchie was suspended and was watching the game from the sidelines. He was also drunk.

In an interview with The Daily Record, Richardson said: “It’s the first time I’ve ever come across it at a game I’m refereeing. No one has ever mentioned the fact I’m gay.”

“I was very hurt and angry,” he continued. “I knew there wasn’t very much I could do while I was refereeing, but I spoke to him after the game with his coach present to tell him I’d be reporting it and I wouldn’t let it slide. At that point he denied it and said his mother-in-law was gay, so why would he be homophobic?”

But it gets worse.

After the incident, Richardson claims he was suspended by the Angus and Perthshire Referees Association.

“Because the association didn’t give me the support at the time, I spoke out against them and I ended up suspended,” he said. “They preferred the whole matter to be swept under the carpet.”

In an interview with STV News, he elaborated: “I was homophobically abused and my partner threatened. This was reported to the amateur league and I also informed my referees’ association about the abuse and for support in dealing with the matter. The secretary told me it was up to me to deal with on my own.”

The Angus and Perthshire Referees Association refuses to comment on the incident.

In court yesterday, Sheriff Lindsay Foulis called Ritchie’s remarks antigay and illegal.

Ritchie admitted to a breach of the peace by using homophobic slurs. In 2006 he committed a similar offense and was convicted of a breaching the peace after making racist comments. He is scheduled be sentenced next month.

As he left the courthouse, he told reporters the case against him was “ridiculous.” When asked to elaborate, he refused. “I don’t want to dig myself a deeper hole,” he said.

Too late for that.