July 29, 2021 (New York, NY) — Athlete Ally responded today to news that Italian Olympic tennis player Fabio Fognini made a homophobic slur during Wednesday’s tournament. He has since written an apology on his Instagram story.
Fognini noted that hot weather conditions “affected his head” and that he “used a really stupid expression toward myself.”
“Obviously I didn’t want to offend anyone’s feelings,” Fognini added. “I love the LGBT community and I apologize for the nonsense that I let out.”
This incident underscores how pervasive anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is in sports. Regardless of intent, discriminatory language contributes to an overall culture where LGBTQ+ athletes and fans are made to feel that they cannot safely be their full selves. As a result, LGBTQ+ youth are twice as likely to drop out of sport.
Fognino’s apology is a step in the right direction, and we also hope to see his investment in learning about the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people, the impact anti-LGBTQ+ language and behavior has within sports, and the roles allies can play in disrupting the status quo on sport and building a sport culture that welcomes and includes us all.