Belfast Telegraph

Tyson Fury's views most unsporting

Editor's Viewpoint

Before Tyson Fury fought and beat Wladimir Klitschko his uncle and trainer described him as a bit unbalanced and at times not stable in his mind. He was suggesting that mindset made him a dangerous opponent in the ring, but it now seems that Fury carries that attitude outside the ropes as well.

His comments linking homosexuality and paedophilia, on abortion and the sexist remarks he made about Olympic and World Champion athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill are beyond the pale.

While prominent sports performers are sometimes unfairly criticised for their personal views or their actions away from their profession, they have to accept that one of the prices of fame is their status as role models. Not all sports stars are models of rectitude nor is it fair to expect them to lead blameless lives - an expectation that is not placed on most of us - but Fury's comments go well beyond what should be silently tolerated. That they should come just after he was added at the last minute to the shortlist of stars in the running for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year is a huge embarrassment to the Corporation. And the controversy has thrown an unwelcome spotlight on the whole process of choosing the nation's favourite sports star.

Fury and tennis star Andy Murray were added to the shortlist at the eleventh hour - understandable, perhaps, given the timing of their victories - but it does cause a dilemma for the BBC. It may not wish to be in the position of moral guardian, but given the outcry against Fury and the calls for him to be axed from the shortlist, including from the partner of one of the show's presenters, Clare Balding, it is now between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

It must be remembered that these are viewers who are objecting to Fury's inclusion, some of the people who contribute nearly £4bn a year in licence fees to finance the Corporation. The BBC has a well deserved reputation for first-class broadcasting - indeed, it is regarded as setting the gold standard for public broadcasters - but it has also put its judges in an embarrassing position as they had no part in shortlisting either Fury or Murray, and may feel that their input has been supplanted by these late inclusions.

It is unfortunate that this prestige show - coming for the first time from Belfast - should now be overshadowed by Fury's madcap utterances.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph