Footballer sparks storm with ‘disrespectful’ social media post

Iker Casillas says a Twitter post saying 'I'm gay' came after his official account was hacked.

Iker Casillas says a Twitter post saying 'I'm gay' came after his official account was hacked. Photo: Getty

Spanish footballer Iker Casillas has apologised to the LGBT community, saying his Twitter account was hacked, after a post on Sunday that read, “I hope you respect me – I’m gay.”

The message quickly gained traction on social media, racking up well over 100,000 likes before being deleted.

Among the thousands of replies was one just minutes later from the verified account of Casillas’ former Spain teammate Carles Puyol, which read: “It’s time to tell our story, Iker.”

Casillas, who made more than 500 appearances for Real Madrid and led Spain to its first World Cup triumph in 2010, then clarified later on Sunday (Spanish time): “Hacked account. Luckily everything in order. Apologies to all my followers. And of course, more apologies to the LGBT community.”

Despite the initial strong support for Casillas’ post, suspicions quickly grew about his supposed announcement – largely due to the lack of emotion with which it was delivered.

Spanish publication AS then reported it was meant as a sarcastic joke, aimed directly at the Spanish media for its wall-to-wall coverage of his personal life following his 2021 split from his wife Sara Carbonero.

“After the repercussion generated by these rumours, Casillas has reacted publicly with a striking message that has caught many of his followers by surprise and it is not about any kind of hacking,” AS wrote in Spanish, translated to English.

“The former Real Madrid goalkeeper has sarcastically posted on Twitter with the aim that the media stop leaking false information about his courtships, which have grown since his sentimental breakup with Sara Carbonero.”

Puyol also posted an apology for what he called a “clumsy joke”.

“I have made a mistake. Sorry for a clumsy joke which had no bad intentions but was totally out of place. I understand that it may have hurt those sensitive. All my respect and support for the LGTBIQA+ community,” his tweet read.

Casillas, 41, left Real to join Porto in 2015. He suffered a minor heart attack in 2019 and announced his retirement from professional football in August the following year.

Adelaide United midfielder Josh Cavallo, who announced in October 2021 that he was gay, becoming the only active male professional footballer in one of the world’s top leagues to do so, was less than amused by the situation.

Posting before the Casillas tweet about being hacked, the 22-year-old Australian wrote: “@IkerCasillas and @Carles5puyol joking and making fun out of coming out in football is disappointing.

“It’s a difficult journey that any LGBTQ+ ppl have to go through. To see my role models and legends of the game make fun out of coming out and my community is beyond disrespectful.”

-with AAP

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