Blackpool FC captain Marvin Ekpiteta has apologised for old homophobic tweets which resurfaced in the wake of his teammate Jake Daniels’ historic coming out. The 26-year-old deleted the posts and said he was “embarrassed” for publishing them ten years ago.
In 2012, Ekpiteta criticised the gay plot-line in The Only Way is Essex, while in 2013, he tweeted that Hollyoaks featuring five queer characters was “disgusting”. In the same year, he posted three clapping emojis in response to news that Nigeria had banned same-sex marriage.
After deleting the tweets, the Blackpool captain issued a public statement saying: “I want to wholeheartedly apologise for the offensive and completely inappropriate language I used, and for the sentiments I expressed.” He added that he has “developed and grown as a person” since that time and that his previous posts “do not in any way reflect the values I hold now or the beliefs I have as a person or as a teammate”.
“Yesterday, I was proud of Jake and all involved at Blackpool FC for what is a hugely positive movement for football as a whole,” Ekpiteta continued.
“Football needs to be a place where everyone can feel free to be true to themselves, and I am upset that the comments I previously made suggest otherwise. I take full responsibility for these posts, and I am sorry.”
— Marvin Ekpiteta (@Big_Marvv) May 17, 2022
17-year-old Jake Daniels carved his name into the history books on Monday, May 16, when he publicly came out as gay. He is now the only openly queer active professional male player in the UK, and just the second-ever, following John Fashanu.
The teenager acknowledged that he would likely face some homophobia as a result of his brave decision, but disclosed that “The club were the first people I told because that’s the environment I’m in every day and I feel safe.
“My teammates have been so supportive about it and they’ve all had my back,” he added.
The male footballing environment has a reputation for not being inclusive of LGBTQ+ players, which has been unfortunately highlighted through another incident occurring over the past week. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) star Idrissa Gueye reportedly refused to play a match because he was asked to wear a jersey featuring a Pride rainbow design in honour of International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
The Senegalese footballer is a devoted Muslim, allegedly taking a stance against the gesture for religious reasons. Fans have criticised this explanation, pointing out that he has previously worn jerseys advertising alcohol and gambling companies, two things which are also against his faith.
Everyone in the comments defending him because of his religion? Well here he is wearing the sponsors of an alcoholic drink company and a betting site
— Baldiola (@TeacherOfBall) May 16, 2022
Two of the PSG player’s international teammates, Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate and Watford’s Ismaila Sarr, have also come under fire after seemingly publicly supporting Gueye’s decision.
Kouyate uploaded a photo of himself with the 32-year-old on Instagram calling him “a real man”, and adding “we wholeheartedly support you brother”. Similarly, Sarr posted a photo of himself and his teammate to the social media platform with a fist emoji, three heart emojis, and the words “100 per cent”.
Disappointing to see so many PSG-fans defending or even supporting Idrissa Gueye after his decision not to play because he’s a homophobe.
If you’re one of the ones supporting his stance, please block and unfollow me please. I don’t want anything to do with you 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️
— Carl-Oscar #QSIOut #LeonardoOut (@COKllstrm) May 15, 2022
While steps continue to be made in terms of LGBTQ+ acceptance and visibility in male sports, it is clear that there is still a long way to go.
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