US: Football player denies homophobic slur but apologies for remarks against marching band

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A US football player has denied making homophobic slurs, despite apologising for remarks he made against a university marching band.

Dominic Raiola of the Detroit Lions was earlier this week accused of using homophobic slurs to insult members of the University of Wisconsin band before his team lost 22-9 to the Green Bay Packers.

On Wednesday, Raiola denied that his remarks included a homophobic slur, telling reporters that there was no evidence, video or audio.

He had apologised on Tuesday, saying his comments were inappropriate. A “significant donation”, has also been made to the band by the Lions.

The Lions has released a statement saying it is aware of the allegations, and the president of the team has personally apologised for the incident.

According to several online sources, Raiola repeatedly used anti-gay slurs against at least one member of the band, which performed the national anthem before the game.

He also reportedly ridiculed members of the band for their weight.

UW Marching Band director Mike Leckrone said Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand had called him to apologise.

“He just called to tell me that he was sorry for the actions of one of his players and hoped that we didn’t consider it reflected badly on the entire organisation, and asked me to convey that onto the band, which I will do,” Leckrone said. “I think he felt genuine concern for the people’s reaction. It was short, but we had a very nice conversation.”

According to reports, fellow Lions player Louis Delmas apologised to the band after the comments.

Raiola has been fined more than once in the past for using inappropriate language towards other players, and for using vulgar hand gestures towards the crowd.

Both the Lions and the NFL have said they will not seek to discipline Raiola further for the alleged remarks.