New AFC Wimbledon manager Wally Downes is under fire over tweets mocking the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India.

The League One English football team appointed former Wimbledon player Wally Downes as the club’s new manager on December 4.



However, Downes has come under scrutiny for controversial tweets sent in September, after gay sex was decriminalised in India.

The tweet read: “Oh yippee… Gay Sex is now legal in India!!! I’m on my way next week.. 1.4 billion all in…so 700million fellas!!!

“And me being the first Gay Icon for LGBGT footballing community… I’m gonna be swamped!!! #RainbowLacesTurbans”

Wally Downes of AFC Wimbledon tweet saying: "Oh yippee... Gay Sex is now legal in India!!! I’m on my way next week.. 1.4 billion all in...so 700million fellas!!! "And me being the first Gay Icon for LGBGT footballing community... I’m gonna be swamped!!! #RainbowLacesTurbans".
Wally Downes of AFC Wimbledon has apologised for the since-deleted tweet

The comments incensed fans, who noted that Downes’ appointment comes shortly after the launch of 2018’s rainbow laces campaign to challenge homophobia in football.

AFC Wimbledon manager Wally Downes apologised for the comments

In a statement, Downes said: “I apologise for my previous use of social media — my comments were meant to be humorous but on reflection they were a mistake.

“I am very aware of my responsibilities as Wimbledon’s manager and immensely proud to have been appointed. I am now looking forward to working flat out to help to keep the club in League One.

“I am very proud to be appointed as manager of a club I love dearly.”

“He has assured us that they do not represent his views.”

— AFC Wimbledon

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The club said: “During the recruitment process we became aware of some use of social media by Wally that is not consistent with our values.

“We have talked at length with Wally about this, who has accepted that these messages were ill-judged and he has assured us that they do not represent his views.

“In the light of these discussions, we are satisfied that these do not represent Wally’s views. We have agreed a series of actions with Wally that we believe will demonstrate his commitment to the club’s values.”

The Twitter account has now been deleted, but users claimed messages sent by the new manager were “consistently offensive.”

Downes had been a coach at Indian football club Jamshedpur in the 2017-18 season.

Homophobic hate crimes in football have surged

Data released on November 28 by the organisation Kick It Out, which works to combat racism, homophobia and discrimination in football, shows that reports of hate incidents are up dramatically year-on-year.

There were 111 reports of homophobic abuse incidents around football matches in the 2017/18 season, a 9 percent increase from the previous report.

Kick It Out chair Lord Ouseley said in a release: “It is hugely disappointing to have to reveal, yet again, increasing levels of all forms of discriminatory abuse at football.

“While the increased reports reflect a greater inclination among fans to complain about unacceptable abuse, these trends reflect, in part, what is happening in the rest of society. Hate crime reports have doubled over the last year to more than 94,000.”




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