Glentoran Football Club has suspended player Leon Knight after an investigation was launched following homophobic comments he made on Twitter.
In response to US President Barack Obama’s historic statement on Wednesday supporting same-sex marriage, footballer Knight made a series of unsavoury comments about gay men on his Twitter site.
The comments, which prompted a furious backlash from Twitter users, included: “The fruits are coming at me. LMAO (laughing my ass off). I aint turning my back on you lot. I’ll slowly walk backwards.(sic)”
And: “Each to their own but I don’t know how a man could be gay.”
A statement issued by Glentoran’s board of directors last night confirmed Knight has been placed on “investigatory suspension”.
It said: “This is without prejudice, pending an investigation into the alleged comments made by him via social media. The club will not comment further on this issue until this investigation has been concluded.”
In February Knight became the first Irish League player to be suspended for comments made on a social networking site.
A spokesman for the Irish FA said that it was investigating the latest comments to see if the suspension sanctions have been breached. “We are aware of the situation regarding recent comments made by Leon Knight on Twitter,” he said.
“The appeals board will be looking into this situation in order to determine whether the suspended sanction imposed on Leon Knight on February 15, 2012, has been breached.
“If it has, then appropriate action will be taken. Regarding this specific situation, the correspondence has been forwarded to the disciplinary committee for consideration and appropriate action.”
Malachai O’Hara, mental health development officer at the Rainbow Project in Belfast, said Knight’s comments were homophobic, sexist, and ill-informed.
“It is clear that Glentoran has failed to demonstrate to Leon Knight that his public statements have an impact on the image of the club and have an impact on supporters,” Mr O’Hara said.
Derry-born Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson deleted his Twitter account after being subjected to a tidal wave of sectarian and personal abuse.
Student Liam Stacey was jailed for mocking Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba on Twitter after he collapsed during a match.
Twelve people were arrested after the Sheffield United striker’s rape victim was identified on Twitter.
Last November the Sunderland striker was racially abused on Twitter due to a Euro 2012 joke.