On the same day that journalists, sportsmen, gay groups and MPs questioned the suitability of Luiz Felipe Scolari for the England managerial job, he has pulled out of the running.
The Portugal coach, nicknamed “Big Phil,” was rumoured to have been offered the role by the Football Association, but said at a news conference today, “In the last few days when I was not even the manager of England my freedom was taken away from me and that is not the coaching I am used to.
“I don’t want to be a part of it.”
Activists had earlier warned that he should be made aware of anti discrimination rules in the game, after he recently said: “If I found out that one of my players was gay I would throw him off the team.”
He made the comments in 2002, just before leading Brazil to World Cup Glory. He was condemned by Brazilian gay groups but insisted he is not homophobic, he said: “My friends include people whose sexual preference is different from my own.”
Gay Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said: “If they are appointing him they should make sure he understands the laws in this country as it is illegal to sack someone because of their sexuality
“The FA should make it clear they are opposed to homophobia, I am sure they would want a coach to have that commitment.”
Peter Tatchell from gay rights group Outrage, told PinkNews.co.uk: “Just like racism there is no place for homophobia in football, It would be outrageous for Scolari be appointed England manager considering his homophobic views.
“That would send the wrong signal when the FA claims to be committed to tackling homophobia.
Mr Tatchell warned that it would stop a gay or bisexual footballer ever playing for England, he said: “That would be disastrous for our chances in future championships.”
Ben Summerskill of gay charity Stonewall, told PinkNews.co.uk: “If he has said this then it is rather disturbing, but hopefully if he moved to Britain he would be made aware that FA employees have protections and if he were to make statements, Stonewall would happily support an employee and an investigation.”
A spokesman for the secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, told PinkNews.co.uk: “The government view is that any form of discrimination in the game is wrong and it should be about the colour of shirt, not skin, sexuality or gender that matters.
“Therefore, we wouldn’t expect somebody to be appointed who had clearly demonstrated that they did not adhere to this principle.”
However, the spokesman added: ” Our view applies that the appointment of the manager is one for the FA. This is a general position not one that can yet be applied to a hypothetical individual appointment.”
An statement on the FA website said: “Luiz Felipe Scolari this afternoon made the FA aware of his intention to release a statement regarding the England head coach position.
“It is no secret that Mr Scolari is one of the candidates that the FA has spoken to as part of the recruitment process.
“We will now reflect on his announcement before making any further comment as we move forward with the process