The English Football Association has suspended Andre Gray for four matches because of a number of tweets, including one with homophobic content. According to the Football Association (FA), the Burnley player was found guilty of discrediting football as well as discrimination. Gray has issued a former apology, and both he and his club accept the disciplinary action.
The 25-year-old Burnley player also has to pay a fine of GBP 25,000 and has to follow an obligatory FA course. If reoffending, a more severe penalty would follow.
In the homophobic tweet Gray wrote: ‘Is it me, or are there gays everywhere?’, followed by #burn, #die, and #MakesMeSick.
Gray wrote the tweet in 2012, playing at amateur club Hinckly Town at the time. The old tweets surfaced in August, when he drew attention by scoring in a game for his recently promoted Burnley against the big Liverpool.
The FA then investigated the tweets. The investigative committee later announced that Gary was found guilty of discrediting football and was in violation of the anti-discriminatory rules of the FA.
Andre Gray issued a statement that he was regretting the tweet: “Firstly, I want to offer a sincere and unreserved apology to anybody I may have offended in relation to these tweets”. Gray says he has changed as a person, and wants to develop into a positive role model as a football player.
Both Gray and his club Burnley accepted the punishment. In a press statement Burnley points out that the punishment must also be interpreted as a warning to other players - even when it concerns tweets that are posted years ago.
It is not the first time the FA imposes fines for homophobic tweets. In 2012 Federico Macheda (Manchester United - then loaned to Queens Park Rangers), Nile Ranger (Newcastle United), Manny Smith (Walsall), and Ravel Morrison (West Ham United) had already been fined for such a violation of the anti-discrimination rules of the FA. Earlier this year, Coventry City took disciplinary action against Chris Stoke for posting a homophobic tweet.