Manchester United to face Celta de Vigo manager infamous for homophobic rant

Celta de Vigo manager Eduardo Berizzo, who will take on Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals

Manchester United, the first sports club to partner with Stonewall, is set to play a club whose manager is infamous for a homophobic rant.

United will face Spanish side Celta de Vigo in this year’s UEFA Europa League semi-final, a team coached by former Argentina international Eduardo Berizzo.

Berizzo, a central defender in his playing career, ended his stint with French club Marseille in 2000 early before returning to play for River Plate in his homeland.

Speaking after getting back to Argentina, he embarked on an extraordinary homophobic tirade to explain why he left France.

“A bunch of f*****s is what you have in French football,” he said.

“There are so many homosexual players there, they always provoke you, they touch your thighs, your bum, to see if you will give some kind of signal.”

The footballer, who played 13 times for his country, added: “I feel disgusted when a homosexual shares the same shower and stares at one’s bum with desire, and even gets emotional when you are naked.”

In March, the most successful team in British football history announced that it will work with Stonewall “to tackle LGBT issues in sport and society”.

After joining in with Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign last year, the club – which is worth £2.2 billion, the third-most in the world – moved to cement its relationship with the charity and the LGBT community.

The partnership will see United’s ground play host to Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces Summit in May, with sports leaders gathering at Old Trafford to gain skills and knowledge for LGBT activism.

It was appropriate that United would be the first British club to partner with Stonewall, considering how iconic the on-field kiss between Gary Neville and Paul Scholes in 2010 has become.

The club was applauded almost across the board for its decision, with footballers, fans and LGBT activists celebrating the club’s decision.

Fans’ reactions to coming up against a manager who has made such homophobic remarks in the past will therefore be interesting.

At the time, Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said: “Manchester United’s support means we can reach millions of football fans both here and around the world, to encourage them to do their part in making all people feel welcome in sport.

“It’s crucial for organisations like Manchester United to show they not only welcome LGBT people, but are active in leading the change.”

United supporters were alleged to have chanted “Chelsea Rent Boys” during a game between the teams on March 13, but the police investigation was closed after a day.