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Basketball Ireland chief apologises for ‘Black Dives Matter’ remark towards England player Raheem Sterling

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Raheem Sterling goes down to win a disputed penalty against Denmark.

Raheem Sterling goes down to win a disputed penalty against Denmark.

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Raheem Sterling goes down to win a disputed penalty against Denmark.

The chief executive of Basketball Ireland has apologised for posting a controversial comment towards footballer Raheem Sterling following England’s Euro 2020 victory over Denmark.

Bernard O’Byrne, who is a former chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), wrote “Black Dives Matter” under an online BBC Facebook post, referencing the controversial winning penalty awarded to the England star Sterling.

England won the semi-final match at Wembley 2-1, with the penalty awarded by the referee in extra time the decisive moment.

Mr O’Byrne, who has led Basketball Ireland since 2011, later removed the post and apologised in a brief statement via the organisation’s website.

"My choice of words commenting on a penalty incident were not thought out," he said in a statement issued by Basketball Ireland late Thursday.

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"It was an error of judgement and I wholeheartedly apologize for the comments."

Basketball Ireland also stressed its “ongoing commitment to inclusion and basketball’s diverse community”.

The sporting organisation said its board had convened on Friday morning to discuss the matter.

The comment from Mr O’Bryne prompted a member of Basketball Ireland’s diversity and inclusion committee to resign their position.

“After everything that people have gone through in terms of trying to be included into sport and just looking at how diverse our sport actually is, it was an insensitive comment to be put up,” Hillary Nets told RTE News.

“It was put up on a social media website, on a very, very public platform, with millions of people who click into that daily. I don’t really accept the apology to be honest.

“I think a more public statement from himself [is needed]; there has to be some sort of consequence for the actions that were taken. For example, if it was a player or coach or member of our community who made those exact comments, there would be consequences for their actions.”

The clash with Italy will be England’s first appearance in a major tournament final for 55 years – the first time since the famous World Cup of 1966.

Raheem Sterling has been praised as one of England’s shining lights at the tournament, with goals against Croatia, the Czech Republic and Germany.


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