BBC sports pundit accused of homophobia after bizarre joke about footballer modelling in a gay magazine

Football pundit Steve Thompson

Football pundit Steve Thompson, already in hot water for his sexist commentary during a match, is now facing further criticism for his homophobic remarks about a player.

Thompson, 65, was temporarily dropped by the BBC after making three sexist comments in 20 minutes during Lincoln City’s game with Accrington Stanley last month.

During the unfortunate broadcast he suggested that a “drama queen” player would be “better wearing a skirt”, and described a scuffle as “handbags out”.

It has now emerged that in September he made a homophobic joke about Lincoln City defender Lewis Montsma, who has modelled on a catwalk.

“I was looking through my ‘gay monthly’ and I see he was a male model… I’m not sure I want a centre-back as a male model,” he scoffed.

The homophobia and toxic masculinity entrenched in football is a major reason why no elite gay footballers are willing to come out while still playing.

A number of Premier League players have reportedly come out to team members with little fanfare, but continue to hide their sexuality in public as they fear abuse from the stands.

Homophobic slurs are so common in the sport that a recent UK parliamentary inquiry raised “serious concerns” about the mental and physical impact it has on LGBT+ youth, noting that gay and bisexual boys play team sports at half the rate of other boys.

These harmful attitudes are reinforced by comments like Thompson’s, which carry all the more weight when they come from commentators.

The BBC ordered the pundit to undergo training before returning to work, acknowledging that he’d already received a written warning about his language in 2018.

“After listeners raised concerns, Steve Thompson acknowledged some of his comments on air didn’t meet the standards we expect,” a spokesperson said regarding his sexism.

“He has been warned about his use of language before and the standards our listeners expect. Given this, and his recent remarks, we’ve told Steve he won’t be on air again until he has completed some training.”