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Australian footballer banned for gay remarks

Jason Akermanis of the Western Bulldogs team
Image caption Jason Akermanis has been banned for two games

An Australian Rules football team has suspended one of its star players for saying that homosexual players should not reveal their sexuality.

Writing in a newspaper column, Jason Akermanis said it was too controversial to have an openly gay player, and urged them to "stay in the closet".

His club, the Melbourne-based Western Bulldogs, has banned him for two games.

Australian Rules has one of the country's most macho sporting codes, and is steeped in custom and tradition.

In his column for Victoria's Herald Sun newspaper, Mr Akermanis wrote: "Imagine the publicity associated with a current player admitting he's gay.

"It would be international news and could break the fabric of a club."

As one of the game's most highly respected players, Mr Akermanis' comments immediately attracted attention.

The 33-year-old has faced strong criticism for suggesting the sport was not ready for its first openly gay player.

As well as facing criticism, his car and home were pelted with eggs.

His club has said it would not have approved the column if it had seen it prior to publication.

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