Burnley winger Andre Gray has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association for comments he made on Twitter at the start of 2012.
The tweets originally surfaced late last week and featured a number of comments that were alleged to be “abusive and/or insulting and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute contrary to FA Rule E3(1)”, according to a statement released by the FA.
Gray himself responded to the comments over the weekend, posting an apology on Twitter in which he addressed the four year old posts.
— Andre Gray (@AndreGray7) August 20, 2016
After attention was raised to the presence of the tweets Burnley released the following statement:
The Club would like to make it clear we do not condone any discriminatory behaviour by any employee.
The club also fully supports the FA’s Football v Homophobia campaign.
However, as Andre has made clear in a statement on his personal account, these are social posts from four years ago, and in this time he has completely transformed his life.
The player has also apologised and denied he is, in any way, shape or form homophobic.
Gray has been rightly condemned for his comments, but there’s an interesting precedent here as the tweets have been in the public domain for over four years. The interest in Gray has spiked following Burnley’s promotion and his performances last season, but it’s taken someone to raise a complaint for them to become public knowledge and the FA to act.
Jamie Smith, host of the Burnley podcast No Nay Never explains how the club’s fans have reacted to the news:
Reaction from Burnley fans has been mixed really, surprisingly so. While a lot of supporters have condemned Gray’s tweets, others have been happy to accept his apology and called for everyone to move on.
Obviously it’s not ideal for one of your players to be involved in a story like this and it overshadowed our win over Liverpool, but the vast majority of Burnley fans are sticking by Gray, particularly as the tweets in question were posted so long ago.
The sensible course of action for Gray now would be to work with the gay community to fight homophobia in sport and hopefully he takes this chance to make a difference. He can be a positive agent for change now.
Gray has until 6pm on Wednesday 31 August to respond to the FA’s charge.