The former Hull City manager Phil Brown accidentally dubbed an Italian midfielder ‘homophobic’ this week, seemingly intending to suggest he was homesick.

Brown was discussing why the Italian footballer Andrea Pirlo had never left his native Italy, where he currently plays for Juventus. Italy recently knocked England out of the Euro 2012 championship.

On Radio 5 Live, Brown wondered why Pirlo had never played in the UK and appeared to indicate that he may have felt homesick.

What he said in fact was: “Why for the life of me hasn’t Pirlo played in England? Is he just homophobic? Is he Italian through and through and doesn’t want to leave them?”

Brown’s slip may indicate that ongoing initiatives to eradicate homophobia from the beautiful game are sinking in more deeply than expected.