Morecambe footballer Yann Songo’o used a homophobic slur on the pitch because another player had threatened to kiss him, the Football Association (FA) has confirmed.
The midfielder was slapped with a six-game suspension for his “foul and abusive language” in the League Two game against Tranmere Rovers on 30 January.
After an investigation the FA revealed the incident was triggered by a Tranmere player going down with a head injury. The game was stopped while a physio came on and a minor verbal disagreement between players ensued.
“The reason [Yann Songo’o] had made the comment was because the opponent in question had moved close to him. When [Songo’o] asked what he was doing, the opponent said he was going to kiss him on the lips,” the document states.
Referee Paul Howard heard Songo’o calling the rival player a “faggot” in response, and immediately sent him off the pitch with a red card.
Songo’o, a Cameroonian who began his career in Spain, blamed a language barrier for his use of the slur.
“He expressed considerable remorse and explained that, because English is not his first language, he had not appreciated the offence which his comment would cause,” the FA document said.
The 29-year-old added on the club website: “I’d like to offer a sincere apology for any offence I’ve caused. I’m really disappointed in myself for using that term, because it does not reflect the type of person I am but it was under provocation.
“I’m totally against any form of discrimination and I know what I said was totally unacceptable, I can only apologise and ask for forgiveness to anyone I offended.”
Yann Songo’o will now miss a further three matches after already serving three matches of his suspension. In addition to this he must also complete face-to-face education.
Morecambe FC said it “fully accepts” the FA’s findings and reiterated that the club “abhors abuse of any sort”.
“We are a community-based family club that has high expectations of its players and staff and Yann’s behaviour fell short of those expectations in this instance,” it said in a statement.
“We will reinforce our commitment to making Morecambe Football Club a wholly inclusive environment and we will remind all football and non-football staff of their responsibility to promote and support such an environment through comprehensive diversity, equality and inclusion training.”