Belfast Telegraph

Beeb focus on making two Robbies squirm

By Billy Weir

Unless you've been living in a cave for the last couple of weeks you can't have failed to notice that there has been a bit of a hoohah that former footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has announced he's homosexual.

Personally, speaking as a football fan, I couldn't give a monkey's whether a player is straight or gay. I would care not a jot if my team lined up full of one-armed, bi-sexual Buddhists of mixed race as long as they can play football. Expect David Moyes to make a move for this player any day now ...

What I do object to is being patronised hugely by Sky Sports News wheeling out anyone they can find to tell us how inspirational this will be for others or even worse, Football Focus sending Gary Lineker along to interview Hitzlsperger.

You can imagine the discussion in the office. "Who will we send along? I know, Gary, it's almost like Gay and Gabby is too but she's busy with the diving ... "

Thankfully Mark Lawrenson was available but over-looked as you can always depend on him to say the wrong thing, and the interview went smoothly although it didn't really tell us much we didn't already know.

No, the really interesting stuff came after that back in the studio when presenter Dan Walker addressed guests Robbie Fowler and Robbie Savage in his best headmasterly tone.

"Gentlemen, there's probably something we need to clear up before we address this issue," he began, as the two Robbies squirmed awkwardly in their seats.

"Both of you have been criticised this week for comments you made to Graeme Le Saux during his career. He said that abuse almost made him give up football entirely."

The most angst-ridden Fowler to appear on TV since Arthur was caught nicking the Christmas Club money, Robbie 1 faced the music first.

"A few years ago a lot was said on pitches, a few idiotic things, but I am genuinely sorry. It was used as a bit of a wind-up mechanism, looking back it's embarrassing. I've apologised, I've been in touch with Graeme, I can't do anything more than that," he added.

Then it was the turn of Robbie 2, once a savage but now renaissance man. Sort of.

"What he said in his book was his version of events and I genuinely can't remember the incident," he began in Arsene Wenger-style.

"What I will say is they weren't my views then and more importantly they're certainly not my views now," he ended, although you were left with a feeling that the line should have been 'and more importantly they're certainly not my views now that the BBC, desperate not to see two of their Neanderthal pundits castigated, have made us come on and apologise.'

And with that, all was well with the world, two pundits could relax, the BBC could breathe a sigh of relief that they'd glossed over some potential embarrassment and any day now they'll let Mark Lawrenson out of the cupboard they have him tied up in.

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