The controversial owner of a leading Romanian football team has said it is “against human nature” and “dangerous” for women to play football — adding that he would quit the sport if he was ever forced to create a women’s team.
Gigi Becali, owner of Steaua Bucharest and a former member of the Romanian parliament who resigned after being convicted for corruption, has previously made racist, sexist and homophobic remarks.
Speaking on the television channel Pro X in a live phone-in, the Steaua owner was asked how he would react if UEFA, European football’s governing body, were ever to force him to form a women’s football team.
“I’ll quit football!” Becali — who has been convicted of kidnap and once received an award for being the most homophobic person in Romania — told the TV program “Ora exacta in sport.”
“You can’t do things against God’s will,” he added.
Asked whether it would be a way of aligning Romanian football to Western football ideas, Becali replied it would be tantamount to “aligning to Satan’s ideas.”
He continued: “How can a woman play football?
“She isn’t built for playing football. Her body isn’t made for football. It’s dangerous. The female was created to be beautiful, to attract the opposite sex.
“We are affecting women by letting them play football or by allowing them to box. They should play handball, volleyball, basketball, but not aggressive sports.”
‘Vocal on a large range of subjects’
Before the wealthy Becali — once described by the Washington Post as “the most offensive owner in world sports” — phoned in to the show, Romanian journalist Emanuel Rosu was a guest on the sports program and was talking about a training center for girls.
Rosu described Becali as an “outspoken character” who enjoyed attention.
“He is not a bad person, does a lot of good things, but shocks you with crazy quotes at times,” he told CNN Sport.
“That’s him, people in Romania know him well. He thinks women shouldn’t play football because that affects their beauty, not because they are inferior.
“Becali is very vocal on a large range of subjects. He talks a lot about football, politics, common affairs. He likes to make the headlines, this is just another quote.
“I think that if Becali would ever be asked to consider creating a women’s team, he’d certainly consider it at least.
“He’s not very serious in what he says. For example, after some games he is so unhappy with his players that he says some are never going to play for him again. That doesn’t happen, though. They are out for a week or two and then back in the squad.”
In a statement to CNN Sport, UEFA said the organization found intolerant behavior “deplorable,” adding that it had “always shown zero tolerance for any form of discrimination.”
“The fight to eliminate discrimination, intolerance and racism from football is a major priority for our organization,” the statement read.
“UEFA strongly believes the power of football can be used to tackle such issues as racism, homophobia, discrimination against ethnic minorities and institutional discrimination such as under-representation of women, or lack of diversity.
“However, there is no requirement by UEFA for clubs to set up women’s teams.”
Steaua, which won the European Cup in 1986, did not immediately respond to CNN Sport’s request for a comment.