US: NFL footballer accused of hurling homophobic abuse at marching band
A football player in the US has been accused of hurling homophobic abuse at a marching band before a game on Sunday.
Dominic Raiola of the Detroit Lions was accusing of using homophobic slurs to insult members of the University of Wisconsin band before they lost 22-9 to the Green Bay Packers.
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.
The Lions’ statement read: “We are aware of the reports involving Dominic Raiola and the University of Wisconsin Marching Band,” the statement read. “Those reports are extremely inconsistent with the standard of behaviour we expect from our players and from every member of our organisation.
“We currently are gathering more information and will respond further when appropriate.”
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.”
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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.